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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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Strange Woman...

This is a new piece that has gone through several iterations (as have some of the pieces contained within).  It started with the book cover that says,  "The Strange Woman" from a book I found at the bins.  Other than the title, which I found evocative, the book really held no interest.  The cover of that book formed the background in both boxes, which are held together by screws.
The upper box is crowned by a "rusted" plastic child's crown (and  because they have such a lovely design, I wish I could find more of these). The golden wing was broken from a resin cherub, and screwed onto the back of the box. (See detail below).

The Strange Woman herself was made from a rusted Xmas ornament (the bottom) surrounded by a rusted plumbing piece, which was topped by a rusted plastic cake column (from a wedding cake) and a small round gourd from the bins, in which I inserted my favorite angel face.  Moss from outside the studio, and a bone wrapped in red thread complete the top.  Between the two boxes, there is metal piece from an antique adding machine.  For the bottom section, I used the lid from a tin, cut an opening in it, and inserted a photo of the legs of the same angel picture.

I have a bit of a nagging feeling that there still may be something to add.  I don't know what, but I will know it when I see it.

Spring may perhaps finally be arriving here, with more sun and slightly warmer temps.

I'm sorry I've been "away" too much....lots of other things going on here at the moment.  Hopefully May will be better!  Don't forget the drawing on the 1st for a goodie bag of assemblage possibilities!  Just post a comment to enter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another bins find....

During the winter months when "the bins" are not fed by peoples' garage sale leftovers, the pickings can get rather slim.  I've gone several times in recent months to walk away with not much at all, but it seems there is always at least one treasure that makes it worthwhile.

Apparently I wasn't the only one puzzled by what exactly this "thing" was for....wasn't a rug, wasn't a wall hanging, but it had a sewn border and a backing like a rug...but it was made of thin wood (1/8").  It is about 6'x4'. Weird.   No wonder it was one of the last things remaining in a very picked-over bin.  But, now that I'm using it, I am delighted I decided to bring it home!
The picture above shows it with the sewn border removed, as well as the backing...and it is now in two pieces.   I don't know if you can tell, but it made of tiny little slats, about 1/2" wide, with various types of print on it.
 Now that I can easily take the slats apart (they are just held together by a gauzy fabric on back) and cut them with my tabletop bandsaw (yes, Carol, there I go again with the bandsaw...I LOVE that thing!), I have tons of little bits of wood to add to the starts of pieces.  I'd had this piece started for several months now, but had ragged edges where the fabric ended and couldn't figure out how I was going to resolve that.  Well, 4 little slats, cut to length, then glued (with wood glue) and clamped down overnight solved that problem and gave me a neat and interesting edge.
I had some short lengths left  after cutting long lengths, so I used them to finish off the inside of a box that used to be a part of Strange Women, which is now reduced to 2 boxes, which I'll picture next time.  

Also, remember that tall skinny house-like structure I got at the bins?  I think it is finally going someplace through a weird set of mishaps.  Will keep you posted on that one.

Have had a couple spring-like days (though still cold), and the gardening experts are saying that the ground is so cold and so wet that we should wait till June to plant much other than cold season crops. So glad we built that greenhouse last year for tomatoes and basil and other heat lovers.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Recycled Art Show

Currents Gallery in McMinnville is currently having their annual recycled art show, and Saturday night was the opening.  Jake, Nils and I attended, and found one of my pieces, Universe (pictured below), won first prize!

Pictured below are a couple photos of a new piece, right now named Fragile, that developed from a very interesting folk-art-type wooden box I found at the bins one day.  The box was just a rectangle, but one of Nils's colleagues at Linfield gave me the peaked "gingerbread" piece which I added to the top, and I then trimmed those out with narrow strips cut from a checkerboard.  The large metal piece top-center, is a lamp fixture used upside-down, in which I inserted two "rusted" doll hands.
Inside the box, I put a backing of a sheet of cardboard from a box sent from China (It says "Fragile" and then there are Chinese characters underneath that...thanks, Marlene), then added top and bottom pieces (at different depths) cut from a checkerboard.  The "earth" is 1/2 of a styrofoam ball covered in a map (interestingly, the other half of the "earth" is in Universe, pictured above), and that is mounted on a spring I found on the ground one day at a farm sale.  The wing on the spring is from a Lego set (see the other wing on Warrior Crow).  The black wooden bottom piece which balances the weight of the top came at grandson Jake's suggestion.  It was part of a roundish wooden frame with sunrays and stars around the edges, but in garish colors.  He suggested cutting it apart (with my trusty tabletop band saw) so I would have some tops and bottoms, things I am always looking for.  I painted them black to add weight and get rid of the awful colors.

I added a container of burned candles, some burned matches, and that is about it.  The fun part is that the spring is so springy, even the slightest movement sets the earth in motion.

(Fragile copyright Diane Lou 2011)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Workshop and giveaway...

While spring still drags its heavy little feet about arriving full time, and we lag about 10 degrees below normal most days and nights, we have had more sun and less rain....enough to lift my spirits a bit and get me outdoors more.  Now for things to just dry out a bit....

For those in the area, I'll be posting the details of a found object assemblage workshop I'll be co-teaching at the Keizer Art Association (in Keizer, near Salem) on May 28th.  My co-teacher is Catherine Alexander who will teach the first half of the class, while I teach the second.  Because our approaches vary, you will learn two different ways to approach the project.  Catherine will be mainly leading students step-by-step through a nature collage/assemblage, while my approach is less guided and utilizes more varied materials and more varied forms of attachment.  I also emphasize creating a sense of mystery in the work that will intrigue viewers.  The class cost is a very modest $40, and Catherine and I will provide most everything you will need, unless you have special treasures you wish to incorporate.  Class is from 9-2...or 3 if needed.
I'll post a link soon.

The April giveaway:  I've giving away another goodie bag of at least 50 pieces this month, so be sure to post a comment or two to get your name in the hat for the drawing.  Each comment enters your name again.  I'll pull the goodies and photo them in the next few days so you can see what "treasures" are at stake!

I've been a little under the weather with a virus, thus few posts.  Am on the mend, so will be back with you more often now.
(Evolution copyright by Diane Lou)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Where have I been?

Almost a week has gone by, and I've been completely useless in giving you anything new!  Jake was here for the weekend, Sunday was my birthday, and the rest....I'm not sure.  Partly I've been moaning and groaning way too much about the continuing drippy and cold weather we are having, and the lack of the appearance of that golden orb referred to by some as the sun, which we simply have not seen!  We are running 15 degrees or more below normal temps most days.  Very discouraging to moi who wants to be outside cleaning up the flower and garden beds.

But I have managed some studio time, thankfully...the perfect place to escape the realities of things like the weather.

This is a small piece....about 8" wide and maybe 5" tall at the highest point.  It's called Guess Who?
I like to do these tiny pieces sometimes, just as an escape.  I love the colors, shapes and graphics on various game pieces, and at times, I just want to see a bunch of them together....dice, checkers, chess men (the bishop), bingo pieces, and some unindentified ones.   The little "grid" in front of the bishop was made by slicing a masonite chess board into thin slices with the tabletop band saw I have.  (Love that thing!)  The whole piece is housed in a little drawer that I painted black and then added little "feet" to it so it can either hang or stand.

We'll start talking about the April giveaway this week.  Stay tuned!
(Guess Who?  copyright Diane Lou 2011)

Friday, April 1, 2011

And the winner is....

Carol Cantrell!  Congratulations, Carol!  Send your mailing address to me at dianelou at earthlink dot net and I'll get this print right out to you.

Finally two days of around 60 degrees, at least in Portland where I have been for these two days. Doubt if we hit it at home.  But, oh, just to not have it raining for a change!  We set a record for consecutive days of rainfall in March.  Enough!  It's time for some sun and the beginnings of warmth.

More art to come....and a new drawing for the month of April!  Stay tuned....