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nightmare mask
Senior Kathleen Burke used illuminated masks to light a life-size maze as part of her Nightmare Project installation in the Susan Shearer art gallery.

Burke exhibits The Nightmare Project in Shearer Gallery

Kathleen Burke headshotThe installation-based exhibition The Nightmare Project was on view in the Susan Shearer Student Gallery of the Shearer Art Building October 30-November 9, 2009. The project is the work of senior Kathleen Burke and was launched during her independent study with art professor Kurt Gohde. It was her second solo show at Transylvania, the first being Transient Narratives in the fall of 2008.

“My friends and I shared childhood nightmare stories,” Burke said, “and I realized that this was a great topic for a project. Almost everyone has a childhood nightmare and seems to want to share.”

The Nightmare Project is an umbrella name for several small projects completed by Burke, the first being a video that was shown in Morlan Gallery as part of the student art exhibit in the spring of 2009. For the video, Burke recorded 16 people sharing their childhood nightmares while wearing a mask that represents Burke’s own childhood nightmare.

She recorded separate audio tracks for the video piece, and these were used in the second phase of the project, the installation in the Shearer gallery. The installation consisted of a life-size maze lit by nightlights and featuring the masks. Seven different audio tracks played simultaneously through speakers positioned along the floor of the maze.

“One thing I liked, that I didn’t expect, was how the noise from all the different nightmares overlapped,” said Burke. “It was hard to make out a specific one. All of these people talking at the same time mirrored my childhood nightmare, which was about chaotic noise.”

While working on the project, Burke saw common themes emerge. “The individual experience of having a nightmare makes you feel isolated,” she said, “but there is a universal experience. So many of the dreams are about abandonment, chaos, or events outside of the control of the dreamer.”

The third and final piece of the nightmare project is a series of prints that Burke will exhibit either in the juried student show or the senior art show this spring.

After fully developing The Nightmare Project, Burke is eager to begin her next project, a series of performance pieces based on fairy tales that she will work on during May term.



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