While You Were Sleeping

Photography by: courtesy of Shutterstock
While You Were Sleeping

"Why a salamander?" was the question on Kim Collet’s mind when she talked about a recent dream to a group of her friends. In her dream, the busy mother had been relegated to the mundane business of taking care of a house by the ocean while everyone else got to go off to the beach. Inside the house, she discovered a salamander— shimmering and colorful in pinks and purples—lying on the kitchen table.

Collet was mystified by the image, but her friends—all of them part of a dream group they’d formed—offered up several clues: Salamanders are amphibians that go between water and land, and in certain mythologies they are symbolic of transformation.

“Right after I had that dream, I decided to create that salamander,” Collet says, and she began working on a human- sized cement and mosaic sculpture of a salamander. The piece would take almost five years to complete, and during that time Collet also began building an art studio adjacent to her home.

In creating her artwork, Collet was doing what Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, chancellor and founding president of Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, Calif., calls “animating the dream image.” Like a growing number of psychologists who host dreamwork groups like Collet’s, he often recommends using art as a way to “meet the dream more directly” than words allow.