Dream Of the Painted Face
30" x 22" / acrylic paint & broken mirror shard on canvas / 1995/ not available for sale
I am sleeping in my bed. At first I am confused and slightly disoriented. I cannot discern whether or not I am dreaming. The dream vision is identical to the world I inhabit when by current modern and societal standards I am considered to be awake. Everything is the same, except for the awareness. I am aware that the night covers me like a blanket while I lie sleeping in the bed. Although I can see nothing that is different, I am aware that the room feels charged with electricity. Then I realize that I am seeing while I lie sleeping and I can sense that something is making its way towards me. The veil between worlds feels as if it is being stretched so thin, it ceases to exist and an opening is possible. While I lie asleep in one world, I am waking to another.
Underneath the mattress and frame of my bed, a hole opens up. The hole is just large enough to allow the form of a human body to pass through. I watch as he steps out of the hole and extends his hand towards me. His being is beautiful. My mind tries to pull the memory of his familiarity to a logical place in my thoughts but it will not come. I take one last look around the room and at the body sleeping next to mine and then I follow him into the hole. I enter in the same manner as he, arms first, followed by the head. It is much like diving. I am swimming in a tunnel filled with water. I do not worry about breathing and I do not question the means of travel. I sense life and worlds existing beyond the membrane of the tunnel. It is understood that the rules of matter and physical form do not apply in the same manner in this world as in the one I have recently left behind.
The tunnel begins to slope gently up and light begins to filter into the passageway. He lifts himself out of the tunnel and reaches for my hand to assist me in my exit from the transitory passage. I enter into surroundings that are new to me. It is dusk and I stand in the center of a clearing in the woods. At the edge of the clearing is a multi-level house made of rough logs. A soft iridescent light shines through a window on the second story. He begins to walk to the door and I follow without question or thought. Upon entering the structure, he climbs a set of stairs and gestures to a wooden chair that waits near the glow of the lamp that I saw from outside. I sit in the chair and wait as he goes to another section of the house.
He returns carrying a small carved wooden box. He places the box on a table next to me and opens the cover. Sitting across from me, he takes a pallet from the box and begins to paint my face with his fingers. Blue vertical stripes the color of the sky as the sun begins its descent are outlined in a thin stripe of white and again in a thinner strip of black. When he is finished he holds a mirror up to my face.
Although I recognize the face that is reflected back to me, I also understand that I have been transformed. Something has occurred that has changed my footsteps and the path that I will walk on in the world that exists on the other side of the tunnel.
“What does it mean?” I ask.
“I will come for you again when you are ready to know.”
These are the only words that are passed between us and they are conveyed through the sharing of thought and not by the use of the mouth, lips or tongue.
He stands up and begins to walk towards the stairs. I understand that it is time to return. I follow him down the stairs and back to the opening in the meadow. He points to the tunnel and I enter as he has shown me how to do. I swim through the tunnel and return to the room, bed, night and world that exist on the other side. When I enter my body, I open my eyes. I am confused and slightly disoriented. I close my eyes and wonder if somehow I am awake in more than one world. I wonder when I will be ready to know what my transformed face means and I wonder when he will return.
Following the dream, I picked up a paintbrush and somehow knew that from that moment forward painting would always be in my life. There was no option. The dream and the painting continued to resurface in three projects over the next 15 years. The video below is from a 2011 project that I conceived of called Learning to Speak the Language.