One night the dream changed/ video work by Kelly Sears at the HECG

8x10KellySears-04Montana State University School of Art and the Helen E. Copeland Gallery are excited to present One night the dream changed, an exhibition of stop animations by Kelly Sears, experimental filmmaker.  Six short pieces will be screened and cycled from Tuesday, February 4 – Friday, February 21 in the Helen E. Copeland Gallery. Sears appropriates and collages motion imagery from American history and culture, often creating mythical narratives and thereby social commentaries on mass culture and society.


Sears’ sources images from a myriad of photographic Americana– the type of old manuals and magazines that are usually laid to rest in unkempt thrift stores, or the forgotten tomes of home and garden catalogues in your mother’s basement.  For example, 1980s gym routines and First-Aid manuals; the US Army Survival Manual in Pattern for Survival;  historic NASA expeditions from the 1960’s in The Drift; and other pictures synonymous with the American ideals of success, health, and the ideal nuclear family are fused together to construct myths that shift between the official histories and the uncanny.  Simultaneously, Sears explores contemporary narratives of power, such as manifest destiny, occupation, and surveillance.


Pattern_for_survivalAlternately, in works such as Body Besieged and Applied Pressure, Sears manipulates her materials to focus on gender roles, power structures, and sexual misconduct.  Interestingly, Sears’ use of sourced material first seems comical, luring the viewer.  Slowly, her works reveal a more insidious commentary that can leave one haunted like the morning after an elusive nightmare. Repetitious frenetic gestures, ominous soundscapes, and compressed or altered timing at first seem arbitrary, only to evoke a sense of uncertainty, danger, or even violence. There is a subtlety to Sears’ oeuvre in that her films, even those dealing with a science fiction plot line, all seem to reflect the deceptive ethos of an America that is alarmingly familiar to us; an uncanny America, from which we often prefer to avert our eyes.


Sears’ filmography boasts pages of screenings all across the US and internationally.  Venues include the Portland Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles Museum County Museum of Art, The Hammer Museum, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival, American Film Institute Film Festival, and Sundance Film Festival. She has been awarded residencies such as the Yaddo Artist Residency, The Core Program/Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Galveston Artist Residency. In 2000, Sears received a B.A. from Hampshire College and an M.F.A. from the University of California, San Diego in 2005. Sears currently teaches Film and Animation Production at the University of Colorado, Boulder. More information on Sears and her work can be found at, on Wikipedia, or Vimeo.


rancher_still_HDThe Helen E. Copeland Gallery is located on the second floor of Haynes Hall, across from the Aashiem Gate off 11th Avenue on MSU Bozeman Campus.  The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 am – 5 pm whenever classes are in session. Please note that parking passes are required for parking during the business day (6 am – 6 pm) and extra parking can be found at the garage near the Student Union.  For more information on the gallery and upcoming programming, please visit or call (406) 994-4501.