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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.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I've written several times about the treehouse Nils, grandson Jake and I are building.  We're getting down to the fun parts now....the railing and special touches.  Today, we finished siding another side, and decided to build the driftwood railing to keep energetic young boys (and everyone else) from falling over the side.

When Jake and I sorted through the driftwood stash, I immediately saw a pterodactyl in this one (or, as Jake reminded me, what we think a pterodactyl looked like).  We decided he should be the guardian for the treehouse.  Not content to leave it at that, I dug into my stash of taxidermy bird eyes and found the biggest, scariest ones ever, and drilled holes and put them in.

Last time friend Deb was here, she brought me a stash of stuff for my creative endeavors, and in the box was a wonderful piece of bark with perfect knothole in it.  I immediately knew I would do something with it, but I had no idea what.  Well, here's what happened to it.
A plexiglass mirror screwed into the back started the thought....then when I attached it to the treehouse, from the ground, it looked like a hole into the treehouse.  So when a visitor climbs up the ladder and bends over to peek into the peephole, all he sees is himself!

 I just love it!  As Nils said tonight, "I think you are having as much fun with the treehouse as Jake is." I'm sure I am.
Nils and two favorite guys...creating the driftwood railing for the treehouse.


Carol said...

I'll have to search out your other posts about the tree house. Your pterodactyl is brilliant! We have a huge plane tree that is just begging for a tree house and it's on the list but not yet at the top of that list. I love seeing what other people do with their tree houses and your peephole with the mirror is a stroke of genius!

Teri said...

Love the dino and the mirror. Awesome beyond description!

Diane Lou said...

Thanks, Carol. I have had a ball with this project! I do love the pterodactyl and peephole...both unexpected outcomes.
We live in the land of straight and tall trees (Douglas Fir), so the tree house is supported on 2 corners by 2 trees, and by supports on the other end. Your plane tree sounds wonderful for a tree house. There are some wonderful books on treehouse building...and tons of examples on the internet. Until we started, I didn't realize how much interest and information there is on them. Hope you get yours built someday soon.

Diane Lou said...

Thank you, Teri! Living out my childhood all over again...only better.

Jill Blevins said...

I LOVE the photos of the treehouse! Looks like a lot of creative people in your family!

Diane Lou said...

Thanks, Jill! We have had a ball doing it!