In 1991, when Dan Rhema was the director of an intercultural training center in Mexico, an epidemic of dengue fever swept through the town where he lived. Dan contracted three different strains of the fever. Critically ill, he was flown to Atlanta, Georgia, where the Centers for Disease Control specialists worked to save his life. The multiple types of dengue had deteriorated into a deadly combination of meningitis and encephalitis and, later that evening, Dan had a near-death experience. He left his body and took an unexpected journey to the other side. Dan did not come back to this world as the same person. His brain damaged from the fevers, Dan returned as a stranger in his own mind.
During his recuperation, Dan found himself navigating an uncharted dream path through his unconscious mind. He began to chronicle this mystical dream journey by compulsively creating multimedia collages, sculptures, and masks from found objects. He also began to paint, capturing the images flowing through him in a unique three-dimensional style. It soon became apparent to Dan that these acts of creation were healing and re-creating him. He has taken this realization and made it the focus of his art. Trauma can awaken creativity and, through creativity, healing can begin.
Told through a unique pairing of Dan’s words with over one hundred pieces of his art, I Close My Eyes To See is the story of Dan’s extraordinary journey from near death to new life.