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Speaking about Art with the African Beings

Dreamed 2002/1/19; acrylic on canvas, 20 x 26", by Jenny Badger Sultan

I am in a room with a group of others. Their presence is like people, but their appearance is like African masks and sculptures, brightly colored mostly.

We are painting. I am painting the group in a sort of circular arrangement. We have met before and talked and become acquainted.

I am in the teacher role, I think. There is a large African woman who is like a vessel. She is saying she hates or very much dislikes the appreciation of crudeness that some of our group has expressed.

I understand her view but also understand the other view. We have to make room for variety. I say "I am putting you in the front of my painting."

Acrylic painting, 'Speaking about Art with the African Beings', by Jenny Badger Sultan. Click to enlarge
I add "One other being is not here this time, so I won't be able to include her in my painting--oh, well."

Somewhere in the dream, we have a discussion or thinking about the difference between art that is a process of the here and now--letting the materials work together in a spontaneous way--and planning and then executing a work.

--Jenny Badger Sultan

EDITOR'S NOTE

Jenny dreams of a primal art-debate--process versus product--and illustrates it with a painting that manages to be both at once! The strange textures here are from an old Surrealist technique, decalcomania--applying paint to one surface, slapping it down on another, and peeling them apart, leaving complex textures. You see it in the paintings of Max Ernst. The mind sees patterns--figures, faces--in such textures, and a little touch-up can generate surreal scenes like this one. But though this looks like spontaneous art, pure process, in fact its surreality was inherent in the dream it illustrates (realistically!)--an art class for weird beings. It's a planned and executed work! Art as product.

And this doubleness reflects the dream's living masks--artists capable of planning (or spontaneity), yet who are art themselves. Artists as both process and product.

--Chris Wayan



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