Similar to the four artists included in this exhibition, I also make artwork that floats in the realm of dreams and a questioning of reality. Many of the exhibitions that we have here (selfishly) relate to my own studio practice or ideas that I am personally interested in and it is because I find these things so interesting that I choose to share them with you through our exhibition programming.
The notion of the dream state is a never ending source of inspiration and it can be both the object and the subject of an artwork. We rarely give ourselves the opportunity to let our dreams inform our waking life but much can be gained by doing so. Our subconscious mind is often holding the answers to questions that we have been asking ourselves. It is able to offer a glimpse into a personal truth or a hint at finding some kind of greater understanding. The goal in engaging with your dreams, at least for me, is to build a stronger connection between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The closer in proximity these two can be, the closer we are to realizing the benefits of dreaming.
The idea for this exhibition came after a studio visit with Lin Price in Ithaca. I was drawn in to her work when I first saw it in a solo exhibition at Axom Gallery two years ago. When I was talking to her about the prospect of being in an exhibition, I began to think about the sculptures of Carrianne Hendrickson—we had recently begun showing several of Carrianne’s figurative pieces in our gallery shop. Lin had one painting in particular that reminded me of a specific piece I had seen by Carrianne. It was one of the paintings shown in the exhibition at Axom Gallery.
The moment I realized that these two artists in particular belonged in a show together was like a revelation. Two people who probably wouldn’t be in an exhibition together but desperately needed to be! One working in oil paint the other in clay, yet both traveling along the same cerebral path.
Lin’s work was a perfect fit for an exhibition called “Dream State”. Her paintings often feature a human figure engaging in some sort of mysterious activity in a nondescript environment. The colorful fields and atmospheres lend themselves to the notion of a dream or at least to a time and place that may not actually exist. Other of her paintings that do not include a figure still somehow evoke that same feeling. A feeling that something might happen or is happening just around the corner, out of frame and out of sight.
Carrianne’s sculptures are often layered in symbolism. Sometimes referencing known stories, other times referencing the inner world of the artist herself. To me, they often seem to suggest the moment of realization that things are not quite right. The idea that perhaps, I am sleeping and the world I am currently experiencing is in fact a dream. Examples from pieces in the exhibition include: blank stares from eyes whose head is balancing a bird’s nest, the closed eyes of a dreamer covered in snakes on a yellow striped couch, and the existence of goblins or human/animal hybrids.
Once Lin and Carrianne were secured for inclusion, I then set my sights on finding other artists to bring in to the exhibition and make it more comprehensive.
I was drawn in by his paintings of chickens. They have an otherworldly feeling to them but are still so relatable because of their subject matter. The paintings of Matt Duquette are often based on dreams and at least one painting in this exhibition was based on a guided meditation session. Each of the paintings in the exhibition have the same cool, dark color palette. The atmospheric quality of these paintings presents us with situations and we have no idea how we got there. For the most part, there is no other point of reference, just a blue/black void and a light source to accompany the owls and human figures. I get the feeling that these scenes or visions are plucked right from a dream. They tell us something but that “something” is veiled and different for each of us.
I saw some of Bill Finger’s photographic triptychs in circular mats at RIT in October of 2016 and was an instant fan. His photographs are a constructed reality running in tandem with the one we live. Whether based on actual places or totally made up, these images have a feeling like trying to recall a dream. You can remember the place and where things were but something seems off. Each of his photographs chosen for this exhibition keep us in an augmented reality where we are unsure what is possible or impossible.
Imagery that relates to a house or home comes into play throughout this exhibition. Houses, room interiors, nests, these are all familiar images and are all references to places of comfort which are needed to be engaged in sleep. These places become a jumping off point to engage in something that might be unfamiliar or at times, disconcerting. While we have no say in the matter of sleeping, some of us have the ability to recall and consider our dreams. Perhaps not in the way of figuring out the meaning of the dream itself, but to see how the dream may relate to things transpiring in our everyday lives. My hope is that this exhibition can serve as a reminder of how important it is to dream and that we all might begin to look inward in an effort to gain a greater understanding of who we are and how we relate to the world. I know it has for me.
See Dream State at Main Street Arts through this Friday, February 16, 2018. You can also preview some of the work on Artsy: Artsy.net/mainstreetarts.