Dreaming in the Woods
Dreaming in the Woods
Home / Our Program / Artists-in-Residence / Dreaming in the Woods

Dreaming in the Woods

Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts' 2017 season included the first stage of an ambitious three-year art commission by internationally exhibited artist and Duke University professor, Pedro Lasch. The project, entitled "Dreaming in the Woods," is a three-year long socially engaged art collaboration between Pedro Lasch and the entire Usdan community.  Over three summers, Lasch will work with students to experience Usdan as a place where they can explore their creative voices and treat the entire Usdan campus as a stage for contemporary art. 

Envisioning the camp itself as an art medium, participants will combine traditional techniques with socially engaged practices that resonate with the most contemporary forms of art production. Beyond introducing interested students across majors and minors to these new art forms, “Dreaming in the Woods” encourages all Usdan students, instructors, and staff to think of unconventional and everyday settings as fruitful sites for artistic experience and expression.

The foundation for all collaborations of “Dreaming in the Woods” is a short story of the same title that artist Pedro Lasch wrote specifically for Usdan. In preparation for the 2017 session, Art in your inbox released the story in eleven weekly segments, accompanied by original artwork inspired by the camp.


Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Cover, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches


Most of us are young in the woods of Usdan.

Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Painting #1, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches


Recently, our dreams have begun to shift form, spreading beyond the forest,
smuggling imaginary friends in and out of the camp each night.

Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Painting #2, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches


The yellow buses that bring us here are changing, too, even if no one outside them seems to notice.

Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Painting #3, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches


It all started when a book appeared in a hollow tree, The History of Dreams and Its Techniques.

Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Painting #4, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches


Older people had hidden from us the fact that dreaming, like any other art form, can be cultivated by love, passion, and training.

Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Painting #5, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches


One by one, walking from hut to hut, we would read the book by day, so we could practice its teachings at night.

Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Painting #6, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches


Some of us got better at some techniques than others.

Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Painting #7, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches


Being able to see and greet each other in our dreams was our first magical experience.

Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Painting #8, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches


Not long after, we learned to change the objects, sounds, and lighting in someone else’s dreams.

Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Painting #9, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches


But little did we know that we would soon all have the same dream: that day was night and night was day, and Usdan and the world were one.

Image: Dreaming in the Woods: Painting #10, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches

 

In 2017, students explored the themes of day and night, as well as dreaming and its techniques, and were encouraged to go beyond the areas they are usually bound to, in terms of art disciplines, as well as buildings. Organic gardening students envisioned mobile gardens and chicken ambassadors, dancers used the yellow buses to create choreographies to be performed inside them, just as our youngest Usdanites found ways to smuggle imaginary friends in and out of the camp, taking us beyond its walls.

 

In Summer 2018, these collective experiments including theater, music, dance, and the visual arts, will all come together in a wild, one-day aesthetic experience presented to the wider community as we celebrate Usdan’s 50th anniversary. Taking over a full day session, The Big Plunge will present artworks, actions, and performances produced by students throughout the entire campus.  For the grand finale, Discovery children will ask any and all water-friendly guests and students to join them in the pool, where they will show us how to create the biggest human whirlpool experience ever. People of all ages will mingle and collaborate on this special day, as our minds and bodies spin in circles to create a social web where past, present, and future are indistinguishable and beautiful.

In Summer 2019, the work will conclude by opening Usdan and the many projects from ‘Dreaming in the Woods’ to the wider New York City public, also reaching beyond the city through social media and a final publication.