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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, March 15, 2011

Anagama firing...again

Another anagama firing has been my excuse for being away from here.  This week, from Wednesday night through Saturday night, we were firing 24/7.  All the people who have pots in the kiln were here to help in the arduous process of firing.    The wood-fired kiln uses 6 cords of wood to fire, and requires crews of people working 4 hour shifts stoking all the ports.  The final temp reaches 2400*F.
This is the 26th year that the kiln, which was built by my husband Nils Lou, has been fired.  Here are Nils and Felix, both seemingly in an advisory role.
The Oregonian, the Portland newspaper, published an article and photos about the firing, which you can view at:

and another great article on the artscatter blog:

The opening of the kiln will be Saturday morning.  Between now and then I am hoping for some real studio time.  

The first hummingbird showed up today....right on the usual date!  How do they do that?....and how do they find a tiny feeder in the middle of hundreds of acres of forest lands?  This little rufous was battling strong winds and beating rains to use the feeder.  Amazing....


Carol said...

What a great story this is. You must be so keen to know what will emerge from that incredible heat. How lovely to have hummingbirds, something we don't have here in Australia. Is that a sign of spring?

Diane Lou said...

Yes, Carol, the hummers are a sign of spring (though an hour away, my sister has a different species that stays through winter). I keep a feeder right outside our dining room windows, and enjoy their antics for the next many months...usually till October. They are soooo tiny, but very pugnacious! Soon, there will be multiples and they'll be fighting over food and females.

Oh, but you do have some amazing critters in Australia too!...some of them downright scary :)

Yes, always wondering what will come out of the kiln, and it is always a surprise. Since it seems we didn't reach temperature, I'm not holding out a lot of hope for things....but we are often surprised.

Ruth Armitage said...

We have the Anna's year round here near Oregon City, but haven't had any rufous yet! I will have to get more feeders ready!

Can't wait to see what emerges from the incredible Anagama! What a labor of love....

Diane Lou said...

My sister has the Anna's in Wilsonville.

Today is the opening of the kiln at 10.