Richard Russo

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“The Labyrinth in the Web”
 (digital print, 6.5” x 10”)
“The Voices in the Grove”
(digital print, 6.5” x 10”)

Richard Russo is an author, editor and dreamworker who lives in Berkeley, California, and is past President of IASD and Editor of DreamTime. As Chair of the IASD Arts Committee he has curated many exhibitions of dream art, and created a multimedia presentation, “Dream Journeys,” for the 2000 conference in Washington, DC. In addition to his dream art, he has published short fiction and edited two literary collections as well as the anthology, Dreams Are Wiser Than Men (North Atlantic Books, 1987).

Artist Statement

"The Labyrinth in the Web"

I park my car at night in the city. I don't see any parking meters but then I notice a row of tall metal cylinders and wonder if that's where I'm supposed to pay. I pull the cap off one and look in. I see a stack of coins -- but also a hairy spider! I quickly try to put the cap back on, but it's too late, the spider jumps out at me. It's dangling on a strand in front of me. I try to brush it away but it comes right at my face ... then it is a spider web coming at me very fast. As I wake up, frightened, I get a close look at the web, and see that the center of the web is in the form of a labyrinth. (March 2003)

The dream was frightening, almost a nightmare, and I woke abruptly from it feeling anxious. Yet right at the end, it presented the striking image of a labyrinth in the center of the spider’s web. In the days that followed, I kept thinking about that spider web. I felt as if the dream took the form of a nightmare and ended with the web rushing right at my face so that I would wake from it and remember the spider’s web. For this reason, I felt it important that I honor the dream by creating an image of the spider web.

The image captures the moment just before the end of the dream, when I’m looking at the spider web and realize there is a labyrinth in the center.

“The Voices in the Grove”

I became interested in the idea of making dream art from the dreams of others, and began keeping a notebook of dream images I came across in dream groups or in my reading that I thought might make interesting sources for art.
Here is a sleepwalking dream reported by Russell Lockhart in his book, Psyche Speaks:

"I walked out into the middle of the night, asleep, walked into the woods seeing trees full of women's faces with tears flowing in a great flood, hearing the air filled with lamenting cries, and a wailing voice commanding me to follow that river of tears to where it met the sea."

The image of the "trees full of women's faces" stuck in my mind and I knew that I wanted to make my own version of it.
In the same book, Lockhart quotes the dream of a patient:

"I'm in a forest ... in a clearing, and there is a circle of animals. It is as if I am one of them. It is very quiet, as if waiting for something. From somewhere I cannot locate there is a sound I cannot make out. It is not exactly a voice or music. A voice behind me says, 'Listen to this.'"

Over time, I mixed together the two dreams in my mind, so that the "circle of animals" became a circle of trees with women's faces. The final image was assembled from nine different negatives.

The faces of the women that I gave to these trees are the faces of the five women in my long-term peer dream group. This group has been together sharing dreams for more than ten years, and I find that I have internalized their voices so that sometimes when I am writing a dream in my journal I can already hear in my mind what the members of the group will say about it. The "Voices in the Grove" have turned out to be the voices of my fellow dreamers, and the image has become a portrait of my dream group as it lives in my psyche. These inner voices saying "Listen to this!" are alerting me to the mysteries of the dream.

2005 IASD Dream Art Exhibition

22nd Annual Conference for the International Association for the Study of Dreams
June 24 - June 28, 2005
Berkeley, California

- 2005 -
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