Lara Mehling is an environmental artist from San Rafael, California. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Humanities from Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA. Her work, consisting primarily of paintings and artist books that respond to the local landscape, was shown at both the Stevens and the Sheehan Gallery in Walla Walla. In the spring of 2011 she was awarded the Jan Mejer Award for Best Thesis in Environmental Studies for her interdisciplinary project Twelve Moons: A Seasonal Round for the New West, which was displayed with work by other Northwest book artists in Bookworks, a show held at the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History in October 2011. She was an artist in residence at La Porte Peinte in 2011-2012, where her work was seen in a solo show, Sleep; she also participated in CaliforNoyers.
Usually inspired by my natural surroundings, I found this winter cold and dry and for a while unwilling to give me fodder for my art. As the temperatures dropped and the village cleared out, I turned inward. I hibernated. I spent many more hours beneath my fluffy duvet, wrapped up in my dreams. In the absence of feathers or flowers, I collected my dreams to chart a path through the new year. My world shrank to the size of my bedroom and it is there that I began to map the private, small, and still imagined worlds of others. Dream Pillows is my personal prophetic dream calendar for 2012 with a pillow for each month and an icon for each dream. Bedside Project is the result of these questions: How do we arrange our bedsides? What objects do we surround ourselves with in the most intimate and vulnerable hours? How do you depart from and return waking life day after day?
Fabric scraps, leather scraps, embroidery thread, wood, casein paint, pen, watercolor, paper
Books, candles, keys; letters half-written, half-read; lamp in the top left corner; spare change. What is the arrangement of your bedside table? What objects surround you in the most intimate and vulnerable hours? How do you depart from and return to your waking life day after day? In an effort to reach out to friends far away during a period of deep “wintersleep,” these are the questions I asked. Notice the patterns, the nuances, the stories told of lives lived in these different parts of the world. I invite you to have a glimpse into private life — a thing both wholly individual and yet positively universal. Take hold of the leather tab and peek into another’s nightstand.
Fabric, fabric spray paint, cardstock stencils, piping, bias tape, embroidery thread, stuffing
Between the old and new year there exists a two-week period of transition. Traditionally beginning on Christmas Eve and spanning to Three Kings Day, these twelve nights, I was told, are prophetic. A German custom for this period known as die Raunächte involves writing down your dreams each night. Dreams from the first night foreshadow the events of January; the twelfth night the events of December for the following year. Dream Pillows is my own personal prophetic dream calendar for 2012. Listen for a sentence corresponding to each of the twelve icons I stenciled on the pillows and follow the sequence of dreams tumbling down, falling as we fall asleep.
January: I argued with one friend and reunited with another.
February: I ran away with a child on my back.
March: I sorted my belongings, chose what to keep and what to lose.
April: I stood transfixed before an unusual, stone door.
May: I visited a home with two blond daughters, one had beautiful long hair and a son; the other took care of two children.
June: I awoke in Paris with no dreams at all.
July: I took pity on a man whose wife had mysteriously died of lead poisoning.
August: Again I awoke without dreams, this time in Amsterdam.
September: I stood in a courtyard crawling with snakes; two intertwined, all yellow and black.
October: I attended a friend’s birthday party in which nothing went as I had planned.
November: I was reunited with an old lover, newly committed.
December: I was overcome with responsibility; questioned my role in the project.