Dream 20080625, 4:50 AM:
Throughout this dream, I go back and forth as two people – I’m the artist, and also the observer/friend.
It starts in an art class. We are instructed to select and cut stone for a sculpture. I go walking in a field and find some soft stone in sheets, it is almost like sandstone but more crumbly; I bring it backhand try to work with it, but realize that it is too fragile. A couple more experiments, and I keep finding stones with various faults. Finally, I take large chunks of a lot of different stones, and pile them on a forklift – I drive them across a bumpy field, and as they rock and strike against each other, they break one by one. Finally, I run the forklift into a wall. The one piece that remains unbroken is an odd-shaped chunk of waxy translucent yellow stone, a little larger than a loaf of bread, and I realize that it’s the one I need to carve. It ends up being a piece that is not quite a figure, and not quite a ship; around the equator of it, there’s writing – the main line says” I’m just a Kennebunk Jesus” and there are other lines with other little short phrases. The lettering is scraped, as if made using the tip of a spoon on ceramic greenware. I remember looking at it, but not making it.
Class progresses, and there are more sculptures, more drawings and other artwork. After some point is reached, I realize that I am / he is learning it all again. I think this is really where I feel the separation – where I’m watching it happen as the observer more than being inside the process as the artist. He’s been here before – to this class, this process, even this teacher. He’s learned to sculpt before. It’s all coming back, with a sense of deja-vu and an unusual facility for the medium. We start looking through this huge gallery area of student work. The sculptures are often massive, like the kind you’d see in the lobby or courtyard of a big public building. They vary in quality, medium, style; it’s like none of the best student work ever was discarded. We look at work after work, and finally find what we’re looking for – one sculpture has similar scraped writing on it, and some of the letters are recognizably the same. We find another, then another. I ask the teacher – does she remember? He would have been much younger, and different from how he is now – a different name, a different look. She starts to realize what’s going on, as we look and find more pieces, although she still can’t place who he was. We finally find one that reminds me of a big artist’s palette, with names written all over it – one girl starts reading off names from the surface. I don’t remember most of them; I’m watching his face as she reads. I think that she hits a nerve with “Bill Heatherman” – but he doesn’t really respond, just a flicker.
We look at another sculpture, and it’s of two giant figures wrestling, in a medium that looks like layered chunks of some kind of polymer or plastic, maybe bits of tire or rubber sheet. Somehow, he is inside the sculpture feeling the way it is moving, and says that he can see where he was going with it now. He walks across the room, and when he’s not looking, I call out “Hey – Heatherman!” and his head jerk sup, and I know that’s the right name. The area that we’re in, discovered in artwork – there are pictures even on the floor, and somebody yells at me for stepping on something that is wet. Artwork covers the walls. We find a stack of drawings and partial paintings under a cushion; Isle one that shows Heatherman as a boy – I can see, now that it’s him, although I wouldn’t have recognized it without knowing that to start. He has sandy hair and he’s thick in the body – not fat, but just solid and kind of slow-shaped. He’s sitting at an easel, with the art teacher standing with her arm around his shoulders. Someone says,” They had a special relationship.” I think that somehow he had the same teacher in high school and now in this college art class, without either of them realizing it. It seems like he had some period of mental illness or some radical change between. The feeling at the end of the dream is very whole and happy, as if the two personalities have been unified, and the artist has come into afoul understanding of his creative powers. I don’t feel like the observer/me and the artist/me have been put together, but more like the older artist has recognized the younger artist as himself, and they’ve fitted together into the same mind, kind of like the realization moment in “Sybil.”