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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.

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)


rebeca trevino said...

congrats on winning 1st prize!
FRAGILE piece is terrific as well!

Diane Lou said...

Thanks, Rebeca, on both counts!

Carol said...

Congratulations on Universe winning - it looks terrific. I also love Fragile, and your description of it. And once again you mention your trusty tabletop band saw and my heart beats faster and I think I WANT one of those.

Diane Lou said...

Thank you, Carol....and yes, I'm sure you do want a tabletop bandsaw! I don't know what I did before I had it because I use it nearly every day in the studio to cut something up. Wait till you see the latest thing I found at the bins that I am now cutting up!

Ruth Armitage said...

Wonderful news on your award! Congratulations :) It is so interesting to hear how your pieces come together from the different elements.

Diane Lou said...

Thanks, Ruth! I hope talking about my process helps others in their creative work/play. Today I had a creative "accident" I'll talk about in upcoming days. It all continues to surprise me!