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Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Buddha Getting Out of Dodge, copyright Diane Lou 2010.
It all starts at the end of the line, whether it is an item buried in the bottom of the Goodwill bins or simply some flattened rusty detritus I find on the street. I pick up any item that calls to me, the discards and broken bits of our society, bits that will soon end up in a landfill or which will simply decompose back to organic matter.
What catches my eye? With complete disregard for the function of the item in its previously useful life, a shape, a texture, a color, will call out to me. Is it a squishy black ball with a Starbucks logo on it that will end up dramatically crowning a piece that has been described by some as religious? Will the disembodied doll arm later appear in Coupling? What about the rusted metal iron rest? It becomes a gothic arch in a piece currently in the process of being discovered.
To say that the process is visceral would be completely accurate. At my earliest stage of memory, I recall having an excited “gut” feeling about the visual appearance of certain objects. Even at the age of 3, there was an unexplainable thrill when I first saw the shape of the unusual bobbin that fit in my grandmother’s sewing machine. That same feeling comes to me now when the shape, texture, or construction of an item tugs me in an unexplainable way as it begs to be included in a future piece.
Do I know where I am going when I begin a piece? Never. The container appears first, then I start setting potential ingredients near it as they speak to me. Later I’ll arrange and position and juxtapose the chosen pieces, discarding some and replacing them with others. As the parts and pieces reveal their place in the work, a cohesiveness and a theme also appear without any conscious intent.
The sense of mystery? Although not intentional, it seems a constant. The reward comes when a piece catches the viewer’s eye from a distance, then proceeds to pull him/her in to 5 feet, then 12 inches as each layer and the mysteries contained within are gradually revealed. The mystery intrigues me as well since I never “direct” the piece, but simply let it unfold on its own. Most often, I am stunned or at least surprised by the outcome.
Despite the fact that many of the pieces have a decidedly “dark” tone to them, I think of my process as playful creativity. I never know where I am going, but I do know when I am finished, just like a child who walks away from mudpies or the room filled with building block castles.
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