Reiko Michisaki uses to collage to unravel a mystery. Using psychotherapy techniques, such as dream analysis, she communicates with alter egos that developed during her childhood. Employing images and symbols as a language, Reiko has cultivated a relationship with eight personalities. Developed over a 17-year period, she finds that the personalities readily appear when she does art. Each collage tells a piece of a story, like a chapter in a book, and the collective series of collages is a vibrant and provocative journal of healing.
Dreams and trances provide the themes for her art, â€śWhere dreams reveal that which is suppressed, my collages are subliminal dreamsâ€?. She finds using collage work well to depict the often jumbled world of dreams. The images are representational of emotions and beliefs, and often appear as recurrent symbols. A symbol such as the hand, for example, represents activity from the primary ego, water is emotions, and birds symbolize the multiple personalities. As metaphors, the symbols communicate messages from the psyche, the forces that influence thoughts and behavior.
When Reiko creates a collage she tries to put herself in a trance-like state, not consciously selecting images but allowing the instinctual choices to emerge. She puts a time limit on the creation in order to keep her brain from interfering, from analyzing her choices and directing the process. There are times when it is a struggle between the conceptual right brain and the analytical left brain; one could also see it as a struggle between the protective ego and the suppressed drives of the id. The goal is to allow a free flow of emotions to emerge unfettered by conscience, societal norms, or morality.
Throughout the year Reiko collects images from personal photographs, drawings, and paintings, and from magazines. Selecting images from her collection, she begins the assembly using scissors and glue. Torn edges on an image might represent raw emotions or an area of escape; straight edges could signify a rigidity, tension or order. Some images become almost completely covered by other images but the emotion content that the image evoked is still contained in the collage, becoming the underlying emotion on which other emotions are layered.
The stories that result from these processes are sometimes obvious to Reiko, but some remain a mystery. The deer in flight, the immobile deer cast in gold, signifying fear and flight, but from whom does she flee? The fortress built to protect also tells a story of loneliness, of viewing life from afar. There is the recurrent theme of travelling across a vast and deserted wilderness, a journey of transition and change. â€śEach collage is a walk through an emotional landscape and brings me closer to understanding myself, to solving the mystery of me.â€?