Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Museum of Art


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Therapeutic Photomontages Tell the Story at Loyola University Museum of Art

Chicago Artist’s Works Tell Stories, Mend Broken Hearts

CHICAGO, October 24, 2008 – On Saturday, November 29, the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) unveils Dreamscaping: The Therapeutic Photomontages of Nancy Gershman. Set to run through January 6, 2009, the exhibition features 19 photomontages that repurpose personal photographs to create a narrative and address an individual’s sense of loss or regret.

In Dreamscaping, Chicagoan Nancy Gershman asks viewers to consider the idea of using art to ease the pain of a personal loss—death, a ruptured relationship, etc.—of a loved one. Gershman sees her work as the result of a healing process that occurs when the artist visually reconstructs an individual’s memories and helps the individual to achieve closure through recollection and the finality of the composition.

The Art of Dreamscaping
Collaborating with therapists, bereavement professionals, social workers, and clergy, Gershman creates positive visualizations for families or individuals as they move from the treatment phase into recovery. Through a series of extended conversations with the individuals suffering loss, Gershman becomes a translator of their memories, solidifying these personal mythologies into an extant form constructed from old photographs and digitally added elements. The result is what could be described as part icon and part memorial, and challenges the assumption of order.

“When I’m creating this mythic landscape from people’s personal mythologies, there are a number of unresolved issues and relationships left behind,” says Gershman. “By having a narrative in the form of a dreamscape, people can start appreciating what happened to them during their lifetime. It is also a way to complete life’s journey with a loved one who has passed away. In the end, you give a person a second chance to heal all that psychic injury.”

Gershman’s photomontages reference 20th-century artists Hannah Höch and Joseph Cornell, and filmmakers Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali, and René Clair, whose use of collage, assemblage, and montage probed the human subconscious for hidden or mythic meanings. Gershman’s work, however, is more akin to the magic realism of Latin American, Spanish, and Portuguese writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, or José Saramago, who mingle the mundane with the fantastic. Visually akin to home-made scrapbook art, these delicate, small 8” x 10” works entice viewers with their many tiny details of a private mythology with which we can often identify.

Public Program:

Artist Gallery Talk with Nancy Gershman
Sunday, December 7, at 3 p.m.
LUMA, 820 North Michigan Avenue

Artist Nancy Gershman discusses her work and the technical and psychological processes involved in creating her final compositions. Free with museum admission.


Dreamscaping: The Therapeutic Photomontages of Nancy Gershman is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

About LUMA
Opened in 2005, the Loyola University Museum of Art is dedicated to exploring, promoting, and understanding art and artistic expression that illuminates the enduring spiritual questions of all cultures and societies. As a museum with an interest in education and educational programming, LUMA reflects the University’s Jesuit mission and is dedicated to helping people of all creeds explore the roots of their faith and spiritual quests. Located at Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus, the museum occupies the first three floors of the University’s historic Lewis Towers on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue. For more information, visit the museum’s website at LUC.edu/luma.

Art illuminating the spirit!