Memory. Imagination. The magic of dreams. SN37 Gallery’s latest exhibition, Sleep to Dream by photographer Shaniqwa Jarvis turns its lens on the mysterious power of the subconscious. This is SN37 Gallery’s fifth show at the Seaport, again showcasing one of the most exciting image-makers working in the worlds of art and entertainment.
Jarvis, known for both her modern fashion aesthetic and sensitive portraiture, here turns her attention to the inexplicable space where dreams become images and photos inspire yet more dreams. The photographer admits that the subconscious plays a huge part in her creative practice. Sleep to Dream’s haunting photos include ethereal scenes of nature, and of people immersed in them. Set against black gallery walls, the images appear to emerge from the darkness.
Here, Jarvis talks about why she was drawn to this work and what’s behind some of what you’ll see in Sleep to Dream.
What made you want to explore the space of dreams, imagination and fantasies for this exhibition?
These things are very close to my heart and are part of a deeper exploration I’m doing with my personal work.
When were these images captured?
They range from 1999–2022 and they were taken all over the world — England, Costa Rica, Barbados, Los Angeles, Dominican Republic, Jersey City.
You’ve photographed some impressive figures throughout your career. How would you describe your approach to portraiture?
I approach portraiture in the way I approach life: keep it honest, fun, and cute.
Did any of your own actual dreams inform any of the images in this exhibition?
I believe that some of my actual dreams informed Sleep to Dream, or maybe there’s a bit of a deja vu component. In most of the work in the show, I believe there was a guiding light that led me to pushing the button at the exact right time, creating an image that I believe I encountered before — although I have no real proof of that.
Who are some of your contemporaries that you find exciting right now?
Anyone who chooses to wake up and pursue their craft is inspiring me right now. From Julia Chiang and Rashida Bumbray to Ghetto Gastro and Zeba Blay.
Why did you choose the Harlem School of the Arts as the beneficiary of proceeds of this exhibition?
I chose HSA because I went there as a kid in the late ’80s for a plethora of subjects. My time there helped with my creativity.
What’s next for you?
Looking forward to a bit of time off to explore this concept a bit further.
Sleep to Dream is on show at SN37 Gallery, 204 Front Street, through October 16, 2022. The gallery is open Wednesdays–Sundays, 12pm-8pm.