Art installation promotes rest, dream discussion

By Elizabeth zinchuk

A university art professor has encouraged students to dream on.

An interactive art installation was assembled Monday in Morris Library’s rotunda. The Gestare Art Collective hosts the installation, which features art created after a “nap-in,” where participants sleep and then document their dreams through different media. Students are free to include their own dreams while the installation is still available through Feb. 28, said Barbara Bickel, associate professor of art and design.

“This whole piece is a collective dreaming idea that emerged within this collective,” she said. “It has grown very quickly.”


Bickel said the installation has three parts: a dream scroll, a 20-foot long collection of sewn-on textiles that describes participants’ dreams; a dream box, where participants can write or draw their dreams privately; and a dream wall, where participants can draw their dreams. Dreamers are supplied the sewing and drawing materials and can participate in the exhibit any time the library rotunda is open, she said.

“It is filled with personal dreams,” Bickel said. “That can be aspirations as well as sleep dreams, as well as nightmares, so it has a mixture.”

The installation creates dialogue about what students want from their own higher education as well as an open environment for community and university members, she said.

“I had a vision of, ‘How could we actually dream for the university and bring dreams to our community?’” she said.

Bickel said she chose to display the exhibit in the rotunda because the area is bigger than the Vergette Gallery, where the nap-in began Jan. 22 and the artwork was originally displayed. The rotunda is also a place students often visit to nap during the day.

The concept encourages participants to refresh, rest and regroup to come up with new ideas, she said.

“You have to stop once in a while and let yourself open up to new ideas or dreams that might come,” Bickel said.


She said the art installation allows participants to join something bigger than them.

“Things are tough at the university, and everyone feels it,” Bickel said. “So for me, it was either worry about it in my own individual place or within my own little circle or I can open it up and have possible ideas come in.”

Megan Sims, a senior from Anaheim, Calif., studying art, said Bickel led her in an independent study painting course inspired by dreams and visions. She said she participated in Bickel’s nap-in because it would help her in her studies.

“She invited me to participate in her nap-in, and I thought it would be a great way to be involved in a collaborative art piece that could also provide some inspiration for my painting course,” she said.

Sims said she suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disorder, and the nap-in gave her a chance to escape her exhaustion.

“I am also ready to jump at any chance to relax,” she said.

Laura Zeman, a social work professor who helped Bickel prepare the installation, said Bickel has always tried to create socially engaging and interactive art.

“I find her work captivating and powerful,” she said. “I found it to be engaging.”

The installation will help the university and is a different way to do so, Zeman said.

“By working with dreams, you can make change,” she said. “It is an initial step toward transformation.”

Amy Rhymer, a senior from Anna studying art education, is a student in Bickel’s class. Rhymer said she enjoyed the nap-in because people don’t have to be skilled at art to participate.

“It’s unique,” she said. “I have never seen and heard about anything like it.”

The project’s next installation will be in San Francisco, Bickel said. She plans to visit Giant City State Park’s Inspiration Point, pin the dream scroll and let it blow in the wind, which is a movement inspired by Tibetan prayer flags.

Sims said she plans to attend the Inspiration Point event because it will be a nice conclusion to the university’s portion of the installation.

“I see the dream scroll as a catcher of dreams, woven, intertwined, with ideas, hopes, aspirations and the unconscious,” she said. “I look forward to watching it become weightless, flowing freely in the wind, the breath of the earth.”