Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dream Catchers and Art

Being a psychology major, I am interested in the portrayal of the psyche in art. From the viewpoint of psychologists such as Carl Jung, the psyche is both conscious and unconscious psychological processes. I want to explore the unconscious psychological processes with this next project- through dream.

While brainstorming about dreams and representation of dreams I came to the Native American legends of dream catchers. The legend states that bad dreams and thoughts have jagged edges and will get caught on the webbing. Good dreams and thoughts on the other hand are smooth and slip through. The dreams caught in the dream catcher will be cleansed away with the first light of day. Dream catchers originated from the Ojibwan (or Chippewa) Nation, although many other Native American tribes adopted the use of dream catchers and have come up with their own legends.

These are Ojibwan dream catchers.

In recent years the dream catcher has been popularized and used by New Age individuals. Here are some examples of this and other individuals using the dream catcher in art:

from: Beach Glass Dream Catchers

from: Voyle Graham
from:William Boney

One vein that my project may go in is to construct a large dream catcher than a person could crawl through. On the dream catcher would be visual manifestations of bad dreams and/or thoughts. Once through the dream catcher one would be confronted with the good dreams and/or thoughts. I really like the idea of having activation of other senses, so I am thinking about possibly having music/sounds as well.

Another path that I might take, which branches (no pun intended) away from the psyche in a way, would be to use a tree and make a dream catcher among the branches of the tree. Again I would like to express both the good and bad dreams and/or thoughts of a tree. This idea is not developed as well as the psyche idea. However, I do like the idea of using nature because nature is a large part of Native American culture.

Thinking more on the tree as the site for my dream catchers...
I was thinking that I would use the branches to construct the dream catcher (kind of like the dream catcher I made in the picture above). Then I would have the negative thoughts or dreams that a tree might have stuck in the webbing and then have the good thoughts hanging down from the center as if they fell through. These would be made of something that would lightly clink together like a wind chime. I thought that this would be a nice effect because wind chimes for the most part are happy sounds and is a auditory representation of something the trees might enjoy- wind.


oo said...

Hi Hannah,

I would suggest that you could try to incorporate both of your ideas... Can you use found tree branches from a storm-damaged tree to make a large scale dream-catcher that people would be asked to crawl through?

It would also be nice to have the dreamcatcher within a living tree, so that could still be a way to go. But in my suggestion, the idea of having the viewer be able to walk or crawl through the piece seems appealing. The question is, how will you represent these good and bad things that you want the viewer to see... or is it something you might ask the viewer to bring with them, in a way of giving an offering for the dream catcher or an exchange of objects in exchange for being able to enter the piece.

Also, I wonder if you could make this space be cozy in a way that would encourage people to sleep there and actually have dreams? Could there be pillows or sleeping bags in the dream catcher? A lot of people will need naps as the semester gets more hectic... could your dream catcher installation serve as a place to address this need and a way to catch the dreams of sleeping students?

Hannah said...

I have been thinking about your suggestions and I think I have come up with a way to combine both ideas and some of your suggestions in an awesome way! If I set up a dream catcher using trees as the frame that people can crawl through I can have them put their bad thoughts or worries they have on the dream catcher before they go through. Then once they are through they are in a comfprtable area where they can relax, take a nap, and so forth. It's kind of like a "leave the negative thoughts at the door" thing. I would provide tags that they can draw and/or write on and then tie to the webbing. What do you think?