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The Muse's Storage Box

The Muse's Storage Box
Copyright Diane Lou.

Alchemical Dreams and Disparate Realities

Rust and bones, broken toys and old text, game boards, gears and nests. Even as a child such odd, unwanted items evoked a pit-of-the-stomach response that bordered on exhilaration.
While I make no attempt to conjure up specific feelings in the viewer, the ambiguous juxtapositioning of familiar materials creates art that evokes half-forgotten, dream-like visions that beg to be interpreted by the viewer. There is a sense of deja vu (the already seen) tempered by a sense of jamais vu ( the never seen, or the illusion that the familiar does not seem familiar), and this contradiction asks the viewer to dig deeply, to look inside her own repository of wisdom, intuition and experience to find her own meaning in the familiar objects she sees.
The once-private discards of people's material lives that I collect for my art seem to carry universal memories with them, memories that can engage and mystify the viewer. Their beauty lies within the rust, the erosion, the wear, and the mere fact that they were once possessions.
I play with abandon and with no forethought. Each piece of detritus seems to suggest to me a relationship with some other piece, and I begin to put them together and wait for the mental "buzz" that lets me know I am proceeding as I should. Even at this point, I continue to remain in the play state and will not allow myself to direct the outcome of the piece, a process that requires complete trust. The outcome often mystifies me as much as it might any viewer.
Remember when, as a child, whatever was in reach became the instrument of your creative exploration? That is my life. A rusty, flattened piece of metal on the street, a gnawed bone by the roadside, a unique twisted branch from a tree, a fallen nest, a broken egg, a snake's skin, a dead butterfly...all will be added to my collection and eventually have their beauty honored in one of my pieces. The resulting art creates a new story with its own imagined history, one that invites the viewers to lay some claim on it by allowing themselves to be enveloped by the sight, the history, and the ambiguity of the realities before them.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The studio is full!

I thought I'd give you a peek into the current status in the studio.  Having the "working wall" so full makes creating new pieces a challenge as I normally do a bit of work, hang the piece up to gaze at it, work some, and so on.  Besides these, I think we have 11 pieces of mine in the house, plus some out at galleries.

For me, my art is almost entirely about the process of creating, so there is little attachment to any of the pieces once they are done.  I experience a great "high" during the creative process, then look at them for a bit, then am done with them.  My next "high" is when someone else loves them enough to take them home.

I have some new works to show you in detail in the upcoming days. Working in 3's (three at a time) works best for me.  No block that way...just move on to the next one if you don't know what to do.  It seems to keep the creative flow going for me.

The Goodwill bins have provided some new things this week too... not a lot, not like the "old days" when I would leave pushing two carts full of goodie, but  I did find some wonderful old books, a treadle sewing machine drawer, some games, beads, and all the unusual little things I always pick up.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Harvee Riggs...

I didn't know of Harvee Riggs until his recent unexpected passing at a too-young age, so my appreciation of his work is just now happening.  One of my Yahoo! groups (Assemblage Artists) mentioned him, so I googled him and found his website.

His found object assemblage art fit my take on what it should be, and I was motivated and inspired by seeing his work.  Then I read his artist's statement, words that could have/should have come right out of my own mouth because they so fit what I do too.

Here it is:  "I create my mixed media works intuitively. Arranging objects, typically within a box, I explore and discover what is possible and attempt to create the jamais vu, the never before seen. Unrelated objects acquired at different times and from different places, seemingly by chance, are assembled into new, dynamic, apparently inevitable relationships. This medium and method favor an unconstrained freedom and allow a mystery of coincidence to unfold." ...Harvee Riggs

At times I am annoyed with wordy artist's statements which seem to baffle more than explain and which are filled with art-speak gobbledegook, but Harvee's statement perfectly describes what he does in a few perfectly chosen words.  I also loved learning the term, "jamais vu", the never-before seen (contrast with deja vu, the previously seen).

An aside: If my posts are few and far between right now, it is because time is being spent with a loved one with cancer.  I'll post as much as I can.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bowl-a-Thon for Haiti

Tonight brings the results of the bowl throwing many potters did a couple months ago, making over 1600 bowls in less than 24 hours.  Organized by Mark Terry of George Fox University, this amazing event brought together students (who provided us with an endless supply of wedged clay balls for throwing and removed them as soon as they were done) and professional and student potters who donated the time to make the bowls.  Students later glazed and fired all of them in the repeated firings that have been taking place since the throwing.
For a flat fee, tonight each person can choose the bowl of their choice, get a meal, and take the bowl home.  All proceeds go to Haitian relief.  Kudos to Mark and his students!

The picture of me above, which is the author's photo on my Anagama book, was taken by 14-year-old Mya Hoskisson, a talented ceramic artist, athlete and photographer.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Closet...

This is another "small", like the ones pictured yesterday.  The 4 of them are all being submitted for the Under $100 show ($45-50 each).  

This is one that had been sitting around partially finished until Monday when I stopped at the Goodwill bins on the way home from Portland.  Sadly, in recent months, the bins has not provided the usual bounty of things that I like to use, but on Monday I came home with two nice-sized boxes of "stuff", as I call it.  The front of this was some of that "stuff", and it fit perfectly on the box I had sitting around.  And the eye inside even looks right out through the opening.  

The fantastical shoe on top is from friend Marlene, who finds me  wonderful items like this.
(The Closet, copyright Diane Lou 2010)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another year....

Here's a little living bouquet to celebrate the 16th birthday of my granddaughter Abbie.  From the moment I first laid eyes on her, she has been a bright spot in my life with her intelligence and her creativity.  Love you, Abbie!

The tulips in the new flower bed are spectacularly happy in the deep, rich, loose soil they inhabit.  I've never had such vigorous ones...and I have never restrained myself and made myself plant only one color but I love them!  So many in bloom at once make such a splash of color.  These red ones are supposed to be deer resistant, and so far, so good.

A bonus in the new flower bed (which is also planted with perennials and then will be seeded with annuals soon to fill in when the bulbs die down) is a crop of morel mushrooms!  I spotted the first one a couple days ago, and upon further inspection, I found at least six more.  What a treat!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Over the years I have collected lots of small pieces and boxes, and I finally decided to take a break from my bigger work to use some of them up.  To begin, I pulled out about 10 small boxes and then gathered up a small Rubbermaid full of appropriately scaled items to use with them.  Completing the 8 or 10 little boxes has been a refreshing break. None are bigger than about 6"-7"  in any dimension unless otherwise noted.  I'll submit some of these to Currents Gallery's upcoming Under $100 show (in honor of tax time).

(Top: The Hatching Box.  Middle: Tea Time.  Bottom: Black and White. All copyright by Diane Lou 2010.)