Camera dei Sogni

For the Dialogue of Fire exhibition, I was invited to create an everyday, universal object. I chose the pillow, where we rest our heads when we dream. I constructed an installation of pillows using handmade Murano glass, the ancient material associated with Venice, together with sound, scent and light evoking beautiful dreams.

In this Venetian Palace bedroom, I have placed eighteen glass pillows made on the island of Murano on a round mattress that echoes the ceiling fresco above the installation. The mattress is filled with lavender from my Murano Honey Garden, where I began a colony of bees, a link to my installation during the last Venice Biennale, “Denatured: Honeybees + Murano”. Lavender is known to induce a state of relaxation, the prelude to sleep. The installation is an ethereal reminder that while our dreams may be a challenge to realize, nothing is impossible.

The intensely colored glass pillows reference the colors of Venice and the Tiepolo-style fresco on the room’s ceiling. Some of the pillows are mirrored Venetian glass that reflect the fresco, others are made of shimmering Murano glass and gold leaf. A few bear the impression of a human head, while others appear to have two impressions – a pillow shared by lovers or friends. Some have no impression at all, as if waiting for someone to lay down their head.

Because pillows are among our most personal objects, my blown glass sculptures have individual names. Each is different in shape and color. Creating the pillows was a difficult and arduous process of trial and error. The first pillow that came out as I dreamed it would is named Karma. As the others were formed and cooled, their names were clear: Stromboli, for example, is like black volcanic sand. Some of the other are Nomad, Miele, Tango, Utopia, Onda, Narciso, Clandestino, Favola, Nuvola, Limoncello, Laguna, Fenice, Nebbia, Capri, Desideri, Luna, Erasmo, Burano and Avventurina.

All of my work begins with painting. For this series, I made drawings and paintings in my New York studio and then traveled to Murano to create the sculptures in glass. The Murano techniques I’ve explored with this exhibit include reticello, bollicine, murrine, iridati, sabbiata and specchiato. The results, and the installation itself, were both more difficult to create and ultimately dreamier than I imagined.

The Camera dei Sogni video interweaves the manual creation of the Murano glass pillow sculptures, with a choreographed Pillow Dance. The tossing of the pillows and dancers in motion represent randomness, life-changing chance encounters, and realized dreams.

The video contrasts the working factory where I create the sculptures from untouchable, molten Murano glass, with the feathery bed pillows and romantic pillow dance – exploring the transition from hard to soft, from tough and laborious to beauty and lightness.

All of the pieces for this exhibition are handmade in Murano. I work intimately with the glass master, creating new variations of the process for each piece. I filmed the dialogue between the pillows, myself, the glass master and the fire that culminates in Camera dei Sogni. Like all my work, Camera dei Sogni investigates fundamental human concerns, the fragility of life and the search for beauty.

Judi Harvest, March 2015
JUDI HARVEST Born in Miami, USA. Lives and works in New York City, USA and Venice, Italy.
  • 1973 Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Rome, Italy
  • 1974 Graduated BFA cum laude Barry University, Miami, Florida
  • 1982-84 The Art Students League, New York City – Richard Pousette-Dart, Robert Beauchamp, Rudolph Baranik
  • 1985-87 The New York Studio School – Robert Storr, Esteban Vincente, Ross Bleckner
  • 1987 Graduated MFA School of Visual Arts, Urbino, Italy Enzo Cucchi, Jannis Kounellis, Eliseo Mattiaci
  • 1987-92 Lived and worked in Venice, Italy
  Selected Exhibitions
  • 2013 DENATURED: Honeybees + Murano, curated by Marcia E. Vetrocq, Scola Dei Battioro, San Stae, Venice, Italy
  • 2012 Mujeres Del Millenio, curated by Barbara Rose, IVAM Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencia, Spain
  • 2011 Hive Culture: Captivated by the Honeybee, curated by Jennifer McGreGor, Gabriel de Guzman and Stephanie Lindquist, Glyndon Gallery at Wave Hill, Bronx, New York, USA
  • 2007 Men are from Mars, Women are from Venice, Hotel Bauer, Venice, Italy
  • 2006 Planet Florian, curated by Daniela Gaddo Vedaldi and Stefano Stipitivich, Caffè Florian, Florence, Italy
  • 2005-14 Luna Piena (Full Moon) – monumental outdoor sculpture installation, Calle Vallaresso vaporetto stop, San Marco, Venice, Italy
  • 2005 Luna Piena (Full Moon) – paintings, curated by Paul Sharpe, Paul Sharpe Contemporary Art, New York, USA
  • 2004 Carnevale, curated by Paul Sharpe, Paul Sharpe Contemporary Art, New York, USA
  • 2003 Fragmented Peace, monumental outdoor sculpture installation, Calle Vallaresso, Venice, Italy
  • 2000 Edible Icons, installation, video and conference, curated by Barbara Rose, The Chatauqua Institute for the Arts
  • 1998 Rhinoscimento, curated by Jonathan Shorr, Jonathan Schorr Gallery, New York, USA
  • 1995 Venice Works, curated by Dino Bugno and Davide Samuele, Bugno Samuele Gallery, Venice, Italy Water Works, Acquasource Gallery, New York, USA
  • 1994 Viaggio in Italia, curated by William Sawaya and Paolo Moroni, Abitare il Tempo, Verona, Italy
  • 1990 Commitment, Sacrifice, Joy. Veranda dell’Arsenale, Venice, Italy
  • 1989 Il Soffio Di Eolo, curated by Massimo Bignardi and Giacomo Joppolo, Malfa, Santa Isabel, Isola di Salina, Italy
  • 1988 Judith’s Harvest, curated by Raimund Thomas and Wenzel Jacob, Galerie Thomas, Munich, Germany