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Dreaming with Julie Dash

Acclaimed film director Julie Dash worked with six area high school students over the course of their participation in the IMA’s Museum Apprentice Program to produce short films featured in the exhibition Smuggling Daydreams into Reality: Yesterday, Today and Forever.

The exhibition opened Saturday and runs through January 18, 2010 in the IMA’s Star Studio. I spent my Tuesday lunch in the exhibition. The students’ video works and the film documenting the process with Dash drew me in. I was also tempted to add my own daydream to an IMA Flickr set shown in the exhibition as a slideshow. But my stomach was growling so I’ll have to go back.

I was delighted to sit down with Julie for a quick chat earlier this year.

Julie Dash. Photo courtesy of Geechee Girls Multimedia.

Interview with artist Julie Dash

Was there a recent experience that led to the title for the exhibition, Smuggling Daydreams into Reality?
That’s something that as an artist I’ve been doing all my life and career. It’s not always easy being a visual artist. Creative ideas can be fragile and sometimes you have to protect those ideas at the same time you are developing them. We’re born creative beings. As you get older people demand that you be less creative, less imaginative and more pragmatic so you learn to protect and nurture your imagination. I’ve learned to smuggle my dreams into reality.

What do you hope visitors to the exhibition will take away from their experience?
First, it’s a way of giving a public voice to my students. Second, it’s a way for visitors to see and hear and interact with the students. And for me, it’s a great experiment with teaching and nurturing creativity. This is the first time I’ve worked with students in this way. I was presented with the opportunity and said “I can’t turn this down.” For the students, myself and the community, I hope we will continue this experience on some level.

The exhibition title also serves as a theme for this year’s Museum Apprentice Program. How do you hope the students in the program will be impacted?
I hope they will have fun smuggling their creative ideas, and at the same time they will unmask themselves. Everyone walks around with some mask on. This is the perfect venue to talk about unveiling because you have access to art and experts in one place. The students went into the galleries and looked at African and Asian masks and then video blogged about their experiences.

As a filmmaker, your daydreams would seem to be wonderful breeding ground to explore new stories, plots and characters. How have your daydreams found their way into your craft?
You’ll always see some of my daydreams in my films. If given an assignment or a script, I have to dream it from beginning to end before I make it. Dreaming comes in handy. It’s really just a more romantic way of saying “visualize.”

Are there ways you might recommend people to access and record their banished fantasies or deferred hopes?
Video blogging – it’s private and easily done with a flip camera and tripod. You can sit with yourself and talk about experiences.

Tell me something about yourself you think readers would like to know.
Before a filmmaker, I’m a mother. My daughter just graduated from college. So you could say, first I’m a mommy.

Note: this interview was also published in the fall issue of Previews membership magazine.

Filed under: Art, Education, Exhibitions, Interviews

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