Dreamed October 31, l99l, painted 1993; acrylic on canvas, 48 x 49.5" by Jenny Badger Sultan
THE DREAM: BEING UP A TREE
I am at an all day outdoor party or gathering. I only recall the last part. I am climbing up into a tree. There is a tall lanky woman up in the tree who is covered with a pasty white substance, on part of her hair, over her clothes, limbs, face--which is partially there, partially flaking off. I tell her "That makes you look the same texture as the tree branches--rough and pale like the bark. What did you put on yourself?"
She replies "I don't recall putting anything on myself."
I say "Oh, come on, you must have used something--maybe a layer of cornstarch and water."
But she goes on insisting "This is my natural appearance."
Now I am up in the tree. I look across a small ravine. A lot of the party-goers are there (is this a faculty gathering?) They are dressed in white gauzy wrappings--I think of Ethiopians. I say to one of the people on my side of the ravine:"Look at those children dressed in white,I like this, and I decide to yell it out, singing, so they can hear me. And I do. It feels great, I surprise myself.
must be the children of the Israelite."
Now I am swinging on something attached to the tree--a thick vine or something going up and down--way up into the sky, down. (Can't quite tell how this is attached.) Feels great. My brown hair is in a pony tail blowing in the wind. I feel vigorous and youthful and I feel I must appear attractive.
I had had the intention of painting something totally different; I started with a decalcomania surface on the whole canvas. The pattern was so strong and compelling; it reminded me of both snakeskin and bark. The tree began to emerge and then the snake. Then it became the place for this dream person.
I was very aware at this time that the snake needed to be reclaimed, for me and for everybody, after being demonized for centuries by the biblical story of Eve and the serpent.
NOTE IN 2014
The paste on the woman's skin now reminds me of people I saw recently in Indian temples who had sandalwood paste smeared on their freshly shaved heads.