Clotho and the Pool of Dreams and Forgetting
2015, acrylic on canvas, 41 x 49”, by Jenny Badger Sultan
I wanted to somehow represent my current experience where dreams, memories, and daily life events intermingle, where I often feel a state of confusion, disorientation, and difficulty keeping things straight. Sometimes it feels like a great pool or soup with different things bobbing to the surface. I started with the pool itself and let the images arise.
There are many dreams that came in. Here are a few:
A young girl, maybe ten or twelve years old, is standing naked. We are painting designs on her body.
Her whole lower half is now covered with colorful swirling designs--up to about her waist.
We are stopping now, to take a break. I think we will continue later, to cover the rest of her body.
Sun on our Breasts
An outdoor festival. Some of the locals plan to entertain visitors from far away. We gather in a circle. A young man does a hip-hop dance, then a friend and I take off our tops and dance bare-breasted. Our breasts are large and full, surrounded by colorful ruffles and ribbons. I’m a bit shy about this, but we turn and dance in all directions, singing "How good it feels to let the sun shine on our breasts."
Two Red Fans
A crowded celebration of graphic design. Collaboration on a logo of a winged dragon. A man leads us. He's tall and solidly built with light brown skin and small braids falling to his shoulders. He does different things--at one point he gestures with two big red fans--kind of opening up the space as he moves around.
The silhouette of a little girl with pigtails stands for me as a child.
The grey cat is a rubber bath toy that I enjoyed for years in my tub.
Myself as a Tree
There is an ecology event. I am in costume, dressed as a tree.
Dream of the Wild Eagle
There is a very large and wild eagle up in a tree.
Its feathers are all puffed out and it is looking very aggressive.
Then somehow this eagle has gotten inside the building where I am. I am wondering how to get it back out.
I think, "This isn't going to be easy."
Dream of the Destructive Dragon
My grandson Amos and I walk past a row of metal buildings that look like temporary storage units. I say "These are almost like trailers." In the window of one are a lot of drums, all tumbled together. Then we see a huge flying dragon, brown, copper and bronze, shiny and leathery. It crashes repeatedly, crushing buildings. Very destructive. I call the police or fire department, but I'm not sure they believe me--it's so bizarre. I call again, telling Amos "Check the name of the nearest cross street so I can tell the exact location"--I know the name of this street, and the two names should do it. I report the dragon and say "Help is needed to stop this destruction."
This painting is very much about lifespan and memory.
Something special was needed to complete the painting, though. After hearing a lecture on the brain where the Clotho gene was discussed--associated with longevity, greater cognition, and better executive function across the age spectrum--I decided to bring in the figure of Clotho to connect all the smaller images.
She is one of the Three Fates in Greek mythology, the one who spins the thread of life.
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