THE POLITICAL POWER
OF ART AND DREAMS
For centuries, dreams have guided nations toward (or away from) their destinies. Dreams have revealed the divine plan for countries, cultures, and citizens. Think of Joseph’s biblical interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream proscribing public policy to prevent the Egyptians from starvation. Or consider the Roman philosopher Cicero’s Dream of Scipio imparting the essence of statesmen-like virtues.
Abolitionist Harriet Tubman dreamt routes to safety for fugitives slaves during the 1850s. Her nighttime visions helped thousands of slaves escape to freedom via the clandestine Underground Railroad.
In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson dreamt he was stuck in the middle of a huge river, unable to reach either side–signifying the Vietnam War could not be won. Weeks later he announced he would not seek another term as president, making way for Democratic peace candidates.
Before the Presidential debates in October 2000, Amy S. of Sausalito, California, dreamt George W. Bush, “greenish with demonic eyes,” was “scratching like a dog” to break into her house. She was trapped. Amy’s precognitive dream (I call it “FrankenBush) foretold not only the Republican Party’s theft of the 2000 election, but the state police powers Bush imposed under the guise of fighting terrorism.
Dreams have illumined the way of political activists from student Nazi resistance fighter Sophie Scholl to peace “mom” Cindy Sheehan.
An artist, known as Angry Dove, dreamt in mid-March Donald Trump asked her to marry him. She considered the proposal and the idea she would be the last person in the room with him every night to implant humanitarian and peace policies in his mind. Upon waking, she realized reading so much news about Trump was “messing with her head.”
These dreams and dreamers show the profound power of remembering, understanding, listening to, and expressing our dreams. Our nighttime dreams upend government, corporate, and media propaganda. Once inner wisdom is tapped denial is impossible; positive action manifests.
Such timely, insightful sometimes witty wisdom gleaned from dreams and depicted by artists can lead to personal and planetary well-being. Dreams give a picture of reality. Dreams enable us to see clearly, revealing hidden truths. When we listen to our own dream guidance, we the people can reclaim our power to govern for the public good.
Like surrealism, the political-art movement opposing totalitarianism in the aftermath of the horrors of World War 1, the power of art and dreaming in these turbulent times holds the possibility of social change.
Art and dreams are conduits to truth, paths to healing and transformation. Art and dreams wake us to reality and response.”
“Wake-Up! The Political Power of Art and Dreams,” a mixed media exhibition, was an exhibition at the Claudia Chapline Gallery, Stinson Beach, California, during October, the month before the 2018 Congressional elections to create dialogue and raise consciousness about U.S domestic and foreign policy. It continues online to expand its reach at PlumDreamsMedia.com.
WAKE-UP! includes works derived from dreams by Northern California artists: Dream Vessels by MARSHA CONNELL; Flag of Death and other images of war by CLAUDIA CHAPLINE; works by artist-activist RICHARD KAMLER; FrankenBush, commissioned by PLUM DREAMS MEDIA; They Never Stood a Chance, an installation of remembrance and survival by JENNIFER LUGRIS; and a dream about Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal with God captured by NICOLE FRAZER.
WAKE-UP! is an activity of the 50 State Initiative of ForFreedoms.org, a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the U.S.
A percentage of sales from the exhibition will be donated to Bay Area peace candidates.
(While this online exhibition is being updated, contact Plum Dreams Media info@PlumDreamsMedia.com, 415-267-7620 for more information.)
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
On March 11, 2006, the third anniversary of the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, artist, activist, and gallery owner Claudia Chapline of Stinson Beach, California, dreamt:
“I’m standing on a ladder painting a large (American) flag. When I awoke the next day, I sketched the flag in my journal, and then I made a small painting from the drawing/dream. The stars resemble exploding bombs, the stripes, missiles. A skeleton’s head emerges from the war machinery.
“For me, the flag painting symbolizes the discrepancy between American ideals and manifest American policy.”
The U.S. war on Iraq was initiated by GW Bush’s lie of weapons of mass destruction. Fifteen years after “shock and awe” was inflicted on the people of Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom has killed 2.4 million Iraqis and cost US taxpayers $1.1 trillion.And under President Obama US extended its hegemony. Today, the United States is fighting in seven countries. Donald Trump has increased the number of drone attacks and bombings in those countries. There was a 215% increase in civilian deaths in 2017, Donald Trump’s first year in office from Obama’s final year as US-led bombing is increasingly “indiscriminate.”
Claudia’s dream and the Flag of Death as well as her other torn-from-war images in Wake-Up! graphically depict the US war machinery often hidden from the American people by propaganda and a complicit corporate media.
Artist, writer, curator, Claudia has exhibited her paintings and sculptures since 1954. Her art has been shown in collections ranging from the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum to the Thoreau Center for Sustainability. Claudia is a pioneer in the environmental and art as healing movement.Her exhibitions raise consciousness and make comments on contemporary society.She has written ten books of poetry and art. In 2006, Claudia received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art.
The Claudia Chapline Gallery and Sculpture Garden has shown Northern California contemporary art since 1987, a cultural crossroads for visitors to the Pacific coast and to residents of Northern California.
A month after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, artist Marsha Connell dreamt that women writers, artists, and poets were brought to observe preparations for the first Persian Gulf War from the bottom of a hill. A voice boomed out: The women soldiers will go first!!
This view that appeared in a dream began a healing process that ultimately brought her peace.
A friend suggested the dream meant the artist was to bear witness. Before this dream, Connell felt artists lacked power to elicit change. Then she wondered, “Could I create art about the war, but not beautify the destruction?”
Connell cut up magazines and photos, made two collages and duplicated them on a color copier to allow travel as letters to her daughter in Jerusalem for her junior year. This shortly became an aesthetic choice as she discovered how the printmaking process enhances the visual unity of the images, montaged from found sources. When she contemplated her images, she says, “They shocked me. They moved me so much. There was a lot of darkness but also hope. They had hope for the world.”
Collages, dark landscapes spiked with light, became her way to communicate. “I felt a distress so profound there were no words for it,” Connell says.
She calls the collages “Dream Vessels” because each dreamlike picture contains a vessel — a pot, a vase, a ship. In her poem, “Dream Vessels,” Connell writes: “The vessel offers the possibility of transformation, hope/reconciliation of opposites…Vessels poise/between her story and history, bridging nature and the human-made, bridging hope and forces of destruction.”
“Somehow, through doing this, I felt I was finding a way to bring hope together with darkness,” she reveals. “As the work told me its stories, it was bringing more sense to the world. The collages were my healing. Gradually, I found my own center again and my own peace through doing this.”
The Dream Vessels series took on its own momentum, now almost one hundred fifty images, printed in editions numbered up to twenty-five. Like intimately scaled murals, the collages incorporate stories about family, culture, history, and the environment, including the devastation of ongoing wars, oil spills, firestorms, the disasters of Three Mile Island and September Eleventh, as well as simple pleasures and life’s mysteries, dance, music, motherhood. They also function as homages and memorials.
The content emerged from dreams, and the process of creating them is like dreaming in the day, elusive and speaking in metaphor, gradually revealing layers of meaning to both artist and viewer.
Imagery appearing in his dreams influenced the art of Richard Kamler, although the process of translating the imagery into art was for Richard, like for most artists, mysterious. His Skinny Figures series arose from dreams and from Richard’s 1981-83 artist-in-residence with prisoners on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison, California.
The prisoners in the art classes became his friends. He took their last statements, humanizing the men. The phantasmagoria-like figures in Richard’s Skinny Figures drawings hover as if in purgatory — somewhere between life and death — analogous to the fate of those languishing on Death Row.
Richard’s work with prisoners at San Quentin changed his work as an artist, launching decades of socially-oriented art. Other projects like “Seeing Peace” manifest this intersection of art and activism. Richard, who died in 2017, wrote, “Art (like dreams) can heal, reveal, and transform.” He saw the imagination as an active participant in the process of envisioning peace.
They Never Stood a Chance Installation by Jennifer Lugris
They Never Stood a Chance, 2018
“When I was a child, I watched my parents stack receipts on a paper spike at their dry cleaning business. In mid-2017, I started having a recurring dream about life-sized paper spikes, except instead of paper, clothing was spiked through and stacked tall, towering over me. There are a large number of these clothing spikes, making up a strange and dark wilderness. As I walk through and around them, I am reminded of the lives of my North Korean family, whose communication was cut off when a wall to divide the country was built. Although I may never know my great aunts and uncles and the generations that came after, I continue dreaming of the day the border will open and we will reunite.”
In They Never Stood a Chance, the 7 feet tall and 2 feet squared width installation created from her dream is exhibited in “Wake Up! The Political Power of Art and Dreams” as one clothing spike. Jennifer envisions the initial spike as part of a series of spikes for a larger installation. The clothing has been bleached, a metaphor for the cleansing of its citizens of their free thought by the North Korean government.
Jennifer’s paintings and installations are a reflection of a personal narrative of survival. “As a first-generation American with North Korea, South Korea, Argentina, Spain, and Uruguay roots, many circumstances needed to fall perfectly into place for me to be alive, ” she said. “In my paintings, I highlight the beauty within the everyday, the ordinary, and the mundane to show gratitude and appreciation for this opportunity.
“Under a nation so divided, it is imperative to point out experiences that unite us and remind people to have faith. Hence, in my practice I incorporate senselessness and humor to show the simple world as astonishing and spread love and positivity to the viewer. As I share my appreciation for the world, I,too, hope others find appreciation in theirs.”
Jennifer was born in North Bergen, NJ in 1986. She earned her MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2018. Her paintings have been exhibited and published internationally and have won prestigious awards. She received a residency at New Pacific Studio in Vallejo, CA as an Ernest J. Gaines Fellow, provided to artists for creative work engaging with issues of contemporary education and social justice.
To raise awareness on social issues, she has curated successful fundraising exhibitions including Compassion, which aided Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines; Pacha Mama, which supported the California redwoods, and SWAN Day, which raised funds for WomenArts a nonprofit organization in Berkeley. She currently lives in Sacramento, CA with her husband, dogs, cats, and chickens.
commissioned by Plum Dreams Media
Amy S. of Sausalito, California, in October, 2000, before the Presidential Debates, dreamt: “Darkness fills the house where I grew up. Something hovers outside the dining room window. It’s scratching like a dog to come inside. I move closer and realize it is George W. Bush. He is greenish with demonic eyes and a pale face. I am terrified and try to escape, but I feel I am trapped. He is finding a way to break in through the window.
“I wake up.”
Amy’s dream not only preempted the stolen 2000 presidential election result, but her nocturnal message also tells of a presidential candidate, who would do (and did) anything to win; then during his eight years as president, metaphorically and literally, broke into our homes. Her dream predicted the 2000 election theft and expansion of State police powers. The dream prompts each of us to consider our dreams during the upcoming Congressional elections, to determine.if they impart clues for positive action, what it is, and how to implement it.
The Art of the Deal with God
Ann R. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, dreamt a dramatic scene April 3, the night after she watched footage of the White House Easter Egg Roll. From the balcony, Donald Trump with his wife Melania and someone dressed as a bunny Trump repeatedly called “Gary” or “Barry” by his side thousands of children and their parents celebrating the rebirth of Jesus bragged about the US military prowess and the economy under his regime.
Eventually, Trump descended to the lawn. There, surrounded by the parents and children and reporters Trump continued inappropriate ramblings–this time about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Ann said she found Trump’s preemption of the children’s party for his own political objectives “really offensive–and very sad.”
Ann dreamt of a family celebrating a child’s birth in a church while Trump sits at the head of a table shaped like a cross and makes a fascistic-Trumpian deal with God about hurting the child.
Interested in the power of journaling dreams and interpreting experiences in a visual way, artist Nicole Frazer created the stained-glass-like illustration of Ann R’s dream using a process called chin colle. The monotype collage began as ink sketches of the three scenes Ann described after she watched media coverage of the Easter Egg Hunt at the White House. As Nicole formulated the composition and selected the materials, she found more symbolism emerged in the process.
Nicole drew three scenes — Trump on the White House balcony with eggs symbolizing the commercialism of the Easter holiday; Trump at the top of the table in the shape of a cross, and Trump, like a king higher than anyone else. At the top of the illustration, the scale of Justice signifying Trump’s sadistic deal with God and the punishment democratic institutions will ultimately mete upon those who harm innocent children.
“The table in the shape of a cross brought me back to the symbol of the crucifixion” and its connection to Easter. The ripped paper symbolizes broken justice,” Nicole said.
Nicole has a studio art degree from Scripps College, Claremont CA, and has worked in the museum field for ten years.
WAKE-UP! The Political Power of Art and Dreams
Works by Claudia Chapline Stinson Beach, CA 94970 email@example.com
Flag of Death 2006 Ink marker & oil
21.5″ x 16.5″
Under the Sign of Mars 2005. Acrylic on canvas
62″ x 17.5″
Children of War 1995 Crayon drawing
30″ x 20″
Letter from a Witness Mixed media on panel, 24″ x 10″ $1,500
Marsha Connell firstname.lastname@example.org
Dream Vessels (DV) #: Title Edition # Year Medium. Dimensions Price (framed)
DV #81: Eye of the Storm 1/25 1996 Collage/Print 18” x 21.5”
Marsha Connell DV #50: Cloak of Darkness 7/25 1992 Collage/Print
21.5” x 18”
Marsha Connell DV #38: Mourning Tea 5/25
1991 Collage/Print 18” x 21.5”
Marsha Connell DV #12: Separation 10/25 1991 Collage/Print 18” x 21.5” $425
Marsha Connell DV #71: Freedom Dance Blues 3/25 1995 Collage/Print
21.5” x 18”
Marsha Connell DV #112: Warning 3/25 2002 Collage/Print 21.5” x 18”
Marsha Connell DV #110: September Eleventh, III 2/25 2001 Collage/Print
21.5” x 18”
Marsha Connell DV #109: September Eleventh, II 1/25 2001 Collage/Print
21.5” x 18”
Marsha Connell DV #145: The Lady in Number 6 1/10 2014 Collage/Print
18” x 21.5”
Marsha Connell DV #4: Witnesses 4/25 1991 Collage/Print 18” x 21.5”
Marsha Connell DV #117: Before Her Eyes 1/25 2006
18” x 21.5”
Richard Kamler. www.RichardKamler.org
Richard Kamler. Figure With Blue Tongue 2012-2013 Graphite, oil stick, charcoal on paper.
31″ X 60″ (framed)
Figure With Two Others 2012-2013 Graphite, oil stick, charcoal on paper
31″ X 60″
Jennifer Lugris www.JenniferLugris.com email@example.com.
They Never Stood a Chance. 2018 Mixed Media Installation 7’x 2′
Plum Dreams Media PlumDreamsMedia.com info@PlumDreamsMedia.com
FrankenBush 1/25 2008 Collage print 9″ x 13″
Joyce Lynn Dream Veritas! 2011
Multimedia DVD 12:20 minutes.
Nicole Art. Nfrazer.firstname.lastname@example.org
Art of the Deal with God. 2018 Monotype with Collage. 17″ x 17″ $350
Wake-Up! Copyright Plum Dreams Media 2018
All images copyright of artist who created them