When Artists Dream
by Martha Ohliger for Build A Dream (2014)
I painted the inside of the box light blue to simulate a sky like many of Magritte's paintings, using the peanuts to make fluffy, white clouds. I build a bed out of the canvas board and modeling clay. I also used the modeling clay to make a person on the bed that has fallen asleep reading Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. The mannequin and styrofoam rod became Chirioco's 'Il Ritornante' figures with one seated on a box made from canvas board. The aluminum wire made Giacometti's 'Three Men Walking', with the feet wired into aluminum mesh folded around a piece of canvas board. I made a sculpture from Vincent's ear, reminiscent of Edvard Munch's 'The Scream'. Munch, while not a surrealist, was influenced by some of the same psychological issues that they were interested in. I used the wooden base and short metal rod from the mannequin to support the ear, the sponge for hair and a wooden disc cut in two for ears. The bowler hat was made from half the egg
with plaster wrap for the brim. It was suspended from the ceiling with nylon thread.
All these figures would not fit inside the box, so I extended the floor with the canvas cloth, painted with an M.C. Escher design. Basswood strips were used to frame a window view reminiscent of one of Yves Tanguy's paintings which I free-hand painted on the card stock paper and curtained with the aluminum mesh. I also typed quotes about dreams from several artists which I propped on an basswood easel.
When I first got the kit, I was overwhelmed with ideas - Midsummer Night's Dream, American Dream, Dream Catchers, Dreaming of a White Christmas, Dreams of an Everyday Housewife, the dream of winning first prize turning into a nightmare of incompetence and a looming deadline. I spent the first month just brainstorming ideas for each scenario.
Some of the materials, like the aluminum rod, had me completely stumped but after watching the videos, I could see it forged into a paintbrush. It would be out of scale to the mannequin but it brought to mind Rene Magritte's painting 'Personal Values'. I started researching other Surrealist painters, a group that had been strongly influenced by Freud's book Interpretation of Dreams. The figures in Giorgio de Chirioco's paintings looked like the mannequin. And Alberto Giacometti's figure scuptures could certainly be reproduced with the aluminum wire. When I came across a picture of Guillaume Apollinaire in a bowler hat which was the exact shape of the plastic egg, I knew I was onto something. That hat also figured prominently in many of Magritte's painting.
I titled my piece 'When Artists Dream' because we can really dream up offbeat stuff and I populated it with surrealistic images as proof of those visions.