Somerville Open Studios

Dream by Kerri McGill

Your dream is bold and clear. The path is obvious. Maybe it includes a timeline. As you proceed forward with determination and optimism, unforeseen aspects of life make the path less straightforward. Other realities come to light and the goal is far less attainable than when first conceived. In fact, you have to put your dream away for a small while and attend to other matters. It will only be a short while…

Time slips by. A break turns into a hiatus. When there is finally an opportunity to return to the dream, you are not the same person, your life is a different place and even the dream looks different.  Will you rework it or leave it behind?

Dream (painting)
This painting is in response to a dream that came true. Painted as an anchor piece for a body of work to be created in a Buenos Aires art residency. It explores ideas of anticipation, imagination and reality. This piece will endure the physical tribulations that often occur philosophically to a dream.

The painting came about so quickly it felt reactionary. I didn’t think twice about size or color. It was clear and bold. It was like making something that I had memorized plans to… I guess it wasn’t supposed to fit through a door.

I pack the piece up and travel through Patagonia. In Buenos Aires,  I plan to use the blemishes of travel and rework “reality” into this “Dream”. The residency vetoes my project. This hefty beast I’d been lugging through South America is now a mute thing. It stays packed up. I create a very different project.

It remains packed away tight for two more years. The creases and folds have a life of their own.  I don’t have the proper stretcher bars and the damn thing wouldn’t fit out the door if I did anyway.


I miss it though. And here is the day I pull it off the shelf, fuss with wrinkles, folds and crush marks, put it back on the wall and reexamine this Dream.

Maps, Landscapes, and your Bossy Brain by Kerri McGill

The Map became a key player in my life last year. I traveled to the opposite side of the world and back and even at home, my jobs and living spaces changed frequently. The image I spend most of my time examining is not a masterpiece with a complex and subtle brush strokes..It is a simple graph overlaid with flat color and unwavering line quality.

I've never experienced such colossal space as in Patagonia. Any sense of space, scale or time is usurped by a landscape that reinvents itself at every turn. Mountains, glaciers, cliffs, tundras, waterfalls, forests appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly like ghosts...


In Buenos Aires, I cling to maps. On the bus I watch for landmarks, memorize street names and count the jogs in the grid which deviate into webs of confusion.

They say memory is an emotional process...
In my fear of traveling without grasp of language, the map became life guidance, the one sure thing to guide me through the confusion of the city and navigate my personal turmoil. The grid holds strong.


A year of constant motion and map gazing begs the question –

How do I convey space, time and the effects our environment has on us? 
How has my past affected how I view the new environments I find myself in?

One of the fundamental functions of our brain is mapping our location: where we came from, where we are, and how many ways there are to get to the next place. Another key action, our brains continually search for familiar patterns, even in the middle of the unknown.  Actually, our brains are not great at taking in new information. They much prefer to imprint expectations based on past knowledge.  The brain tries very hard to transform new things into what is familiar.

Maybe this lends to the magic in Patagonia..
I had nothing to compare it to. I was in continual awe. 

My life in New England created an internal map that is my basis for organizing and understanding any other Space I inhabit...even if it is completely different. 



I am in search of a visual vocabulary. These new works use the map as a starting point and play with the idea of how we use past knowledge to organize what lies before us.