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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.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I got in!...20 years later...

A couple weeks ago, I submitted my work to the jury at the Local 14 show, and yesterday I was notified I was accepted!!  I'm thrilled.  This is a very large, women-only show that has been going on for 44 years now in Portland.

But what is really fun for me is that 20 years ago, when I had just moved back to Oregon from Montana, I read about the Local 14 show in the Portland newspaper, The Oregonian, and said to myself, "Someday I am going to be in that show."  Over the years, each year when I saw it advertised, I'd say, "Someday..."

So, this year, since I am not teaching at Art and Soul which has always conflicted time-wise with Local 14, I decided to apply.  Notification was supposed to be April 1st, so yesterday when a saw an email from Local 14 in my inbox, I assumed it would say, "Thanks for applying, but...."     I was definitely dancing a happy dance when I read the message.  The show is the end of Sept/beginning of Oct.

The photo is a new piece: Compressed Experience.  Friend Deb gave me, among other things, the tall wooden box (actually a file card tray), and the lovely wooden woman/comb.  To the tall box, I added a base I made from a wooden picture frame which I cut with a chop saw, and a fence post topper I repurposed from an old, old piece I had disassembled.  The interior is lined with a handmade paper with bamboo sticks through it.

My "lady" has an added belt around her waist with a dice and a tiny little bejeweled metal container that I have had for at least 20 years.  At that point, I got stuck on the piece, but knew it wasn't done.  When I put a screw in from the back to fasten the woman into place,  she cracked slightly....a crack which ran from her shoulder to her breast, creating the perfect opening for some of my favorite red string to hang down the front.

(Compressed Experience copyright by Diane Lou)


Carol said...

Congratulations, Diane, this is a really beautiful piece. I love the way you turn something that could be a disaster (the accidental crack in the figure) into a huge success.

rebeca trevino said...

I have the same comment . . . the red string is a perfect finish.

also, i see that the box is 3 sided, did you cover the front of the box with glass (i can't tell from the photo), and what are the 3 egg-looking things at her feet?

it's stunning. how tall is the piece?

Diane Lou said...

Thanks, Carol and Rebeca. I always look on a "disaster" in a piece as just a little jab from the Universe to go another direction.

Yes, Rebeca, the piece is 3 sided and open on front (no glass). There is moss at her feet (from outside the studio door) and my fav crackled eggs. Years ago, I went to Safeway (grocery store, Carol) after Easter and they had these fake "egg" trees they were closing out for $5. I bought 2. They were covered with off-white eggs with a crackle finish is various sizes (grading from large to small as you moved up the cone-shaped base). I LOVE them and hope someday I find them again (but I still have quite a few, thank goodness). They always evoke comments when people see them.

Glad you like the piece!