Works in LSU show are stuff of dreams ... and nightmares
Looking back now, the lion never meant to be scary.
He’d just stand there, peering through the window of Nancy Jo Poirrier’s dream, most times walking back and forth. But never roaring.
And never stepping through the window.
The lion was recurring, replaying in Poirrier’s dreams between ages 4 and 6. And each time his golden face would show up, she’d call out for her dad to rescue her.
That’s him sitting next to her on the bed in her mixed media painting, “Dream Puzzle.” That’s also his image in the digital photograph on the wall. He stands next to her mom.
The piece is the first in a triptych of paintings representing Poirrier’s childhood dreams and daydreams. She created it five years ago with no intentions of traveling back in time.
“There were a group of us who painted together, and someone said, ‘Why don’t we all do a separate series?” Poirrier said. “So I did this.”
The triptych is part of the LSU School of Art’s 11th annual Summer Invitational Art Exhibition, which runs through Friday, Aug. 3, at the Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery in the Shaw Center of the Arts.
Poirrier is one of more than 50 artists in this show titled DreamCatching. Artists were given free reign in their interpretations of the theme.
Some delved into daydreams, others nightmares.
Kevin Duffy’s painting, “Gonna Sleep in Mommy’s Bed Tonight ... Again,” is probably the scariest nightmare to be found in the gallery. The main focus is a clown-like figure, which would be scary enough to many viewers. Add a dark background and screen door to the mix, and the piece could be the premise for a good horror film. Who is the ghostly clown looking through the screen door? And yes, Duffy has framed his painting with an actual screen door. Now, back to the question. Who is this character? Well, the answer is easy.
He’s whoever or whatever is scary in your dreams. Duffy has interpreted the theme his way, and he’s left it up to viewers to reinterpret it their way.
As have all the artists represented in this show. This is one reason why gallery director Kristin “Malia” Krolak’s design for the exhibit postcard features a line drawing of a Native American dreamcatcher. The oval in the center of the dreamcatcher is empty, and the words, “I dream of ...” are printed in the upper left-hand corner.
“The cards will be available to visitors when they enter the gallery,” Krolak said. “We’ll provide Crayons for them. The idea is for them to give us their interpretation of the theme by drawing it on the card.”
The drawings then will be compiled into a “dream cloud,” which will be installed as part of the exhibit. “We’ll be collecting dream drawings all summer long,” Krolak said.
In the meantime, the pieces of Poirrier’s puzzle create a cloud of their own, a cloud of dreams whose meaning changed in the years between childhood and adulthood. “When I think of the lion now, he never did anything scary at all,” Poirrier said. “And I don’t know if C.S. Lewis had written his Narnia books at the time, but now I know that the lion is also a symbol of God.”
Poirrier’s three canvases are shaped as puzzle pieces, neatly fitting together to allow one dreamscape to flow into another. “My husband cut the pieces,” Poirrier said, laughing. “He was so excited to be able to do it, because it gave him a chance to use his man tools.”
So, the lion dream gives way to another where three apparitions wail above a child’s bedroom door. “I would have this dream when I was about 9 or 10,” Poirrier said. “I’d call out for my parents, but they would never come.” This is why their photograph doesn’t hang on the bedroom wall in this piece, nor is it to be found in the third, where two little girls seem to be deep in conversation.
“The last one is a daydream,” Poirrier said.
Her family had moved when she was 9 years old, and she had no friends at the new location. So, Poirrier created an imaginary friend named Meanie, an alter ego of sorts who did all of the things that Poirrier couldn’t. “She even cursed for me,” Poirrier said, laughing.
Meanie faded when Poirrier finally made her first friend, a girl named Joan Anderson. This is why a digital photo of Poirrier and her friend is included in this piece. “This was such a great project for me,” Poirrier said. “I never planned on doing this series, and I don’t know what led me to it. But it was cathartic. I guess it was like therapy for me.”
It tells the story of her dreams.
- ARTISTS: Carol Arabie, Charles Barbier, Erin Barker, Susan Batts, Anne Bigger, Susie Blyskal, Billie Bourgeois, Rancy Boyd-Snee, Christopher Scott Brumfield, Samuel Joseph Corso, Mary Ann Caffery, Linda T. Dautreuil, Paul Dean, Mary Claire Delony, Barbara Donovan, Kevin Duffy, Rene Fletcher, Elizabeth Fontenot, Shawn Foreman, Rosemary Goodell, Frankie Gould, Denise Greenwood Loveless, Diane Hanson, Randell Henry, Adam Hess, Meg Holford, Therese Knowles, Patti Hough, Michele Hudelot, Kathryn Hunter, Aaron P. Hussey, Libby Johnson, Cara Kearns, Hogan Kimbrell, Katie Knoeringer, Rebecca Kreisler, Elayne Kuehler, Regina Loch-Elvert, Jonathan Mayers, Darlene Moore, Jill Moore, Paul Neff, Betsy Neely, Isoko Onodera, Jonathan Pellitteri, Nancy Jo Poirrier, Kathy Scherer, Renee Smith, Sheryl Southwick, Jennifer Terbeiten Mayer, Durant Thompson, Elise Toups, Van Wade-Day, Clifton G. Webb, Jim Zeitz, Reni Zeitz.