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Relics from “The Dream Machine”

10 Jun 2022 - 23 Jul 2022

Relics from “The Dream Machine”
Sabbatical work by Nathan Peck

In the Simmerling Gallery | June 10, 2022 – July 23, 2022
Artists’ Reception – June 10, 2022 | 6-8PM


After twenty years at Saint Xavier University, I finally took a semester off for professional development and creative production. My sabbatical was scheduled for spring 2021. I guess I was lucky that everything was closed. I am easily distracted and I really wanted to have time in the studio. The downside, is that I generally prefer to make art with other people, and all my other people just wanted to stay home too. 

I spent over a thousand hours in the studio, mostly alone, except for my record collection and several dozen audio books and eventually Chicago’s White Sox. 

A funny thing happens when I spend weeks and months alone like this, as I did working the factory third shift in college, or at artist retreats in Montana, Germany or France.  I tend to work extremely long continuous spans repeating the same task and start to lose a little bit of control over the slippery space between my conscious and unconscious lives. The dreams become continuous simulations of my waking hours and my waking life becomes an attempt to replicate things I found in my dreams. 

The combination of muscle memory and the self-assurance of having only my opinion makes the action continue long after I fall asleep. My unconscious brain puts in another 8-hour shift complete with every detail. I can feel every splinter, smell the paint, taste the stale coffee and wince when it all falls apart again. 

The rewards for this laborious fourth shift are the visions. I get to see what my mind is capable of, when it is not constrained by time, budget or physics. I know what I can do awake, but I am always surprised at the ludicrous concoctions of my unconscious brain. I always want to excavate some of those ideas and bring them back, like relics from another time and place. For most of my life I have sketched out these dream relics with pencil on paper. This show is an attempt to actually fabricate and exhibit some of those dream relics to see what I can learn from them.

Thanks: Although I sometimes pretend that I am a solitary artist slaving away in isolation. I am actually, as I said at the top, far more interested in working with others. As people slowly started coming out of their pandemic zoom caves, I had the opportunity to work with some of my favorite current and former students. This show would not have been possible were it not for four very important collaborators that came through at key junctures. Shay Lieske, Emely Salgado-Huerta, Bianca Santoyo and Anahi Valezquez each gave me hours of their precious time and skills. All of the photos and videos were made with their help. Many of the objects also have their fingerprints embedded.


10 Jun 2022
23 Jul 2022
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