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Green, Green, Spirit of the Spring

Based on dreams from Feb.3 1991, Aug.13 & Nov.10 1995, painted l996, acrylic on canvas, 49.5 x 60Ē, by Jenny Badger Sultan

Acrylic painting, 'Green, Green, the Spirit of the Spring', by Jenny Badger Sultan. Click to enlarge

The painting was prompted by a number of dreams with green or other nature images. Here are three of the most important dreams:

Feb. 3, 1991

I have gone out to do a few errands. I think Iíve done what I first needed to do, then I decide to look for some blue wristbands for my son Leon--he has asked for them. I am looking for them in the store Iíve gone into. I donít see the color or the type I want; I see some long ones that tie. I ask a salesclerk. She shows me some others and also tells me theyíre having a sale. Some of the money from the sale will go to a worthy cause. I feel I am getting diverted, but I start to look.

I see a dress--buttons down the front--out of a soft print knit. The front of the skirt is open; youíd have to wear an underskirt. Itís size 18. I tell the clerk I like this one but feel itís too big--do they have a smaller size? She agrees it would be too big and goes to look.

It seems I wander out a door onto a hillside, sunny. There are 2 teenaged young women there, sitting on the ground, maybe around a low spool table. One, with light brown skin, is so unusual looking--she has the appearance of having hair that sticks out in an unusual way, but in fact she has on her head a saucer and a potted plant which grows out mainly horizontally with long stems with small translucent leaves--reddish. Itís a real plant that I can visualize, but I donít know its name.

I am so struck by this I go over to talk to them. I tell her how much I like her headpiece and how I marvel at how she wears it so naturally. We begin to talk. I am closer to and mainly talking to the other young woman, who doesn't have a plant on her head. She has creamy red lips.

They mention going to Japantown to get some paints and painting on their faces. I say "I used to do a lot of painting on myself."

They wonder "Why donít you anymore--do you not like to?" Detail of acrylic painting, 'Green, Green, Spirit of the Spring': girl with plant on her head, by Jenny Badger Sultan.

I say "Itís not that, itís just my life now--makes it hard or impossible."

They ask "What's your life like?"

I tell them "I have my work--teaching--then I have my family which takes a lot of time." (I donít think I get as far as my art work.) I tell them "I teach art at City College"--then I kind of get an idea that Iíll tell them about the art department there--they look like young women who might be going in an art direction. I add "City has a very good art department and you could take classes there." Then I wonder if they have graduated high school or done an equivalency. I ask.

They both say "We left high school because of a pregnancy."

I say "Well, you could get your equivalency any time you want and go on to City."

August 13, 1995

I have serious health concerns and a woman wishes that the spirit of the spring (water, not season) will go with me as I hike away by myself.

The painting's title came from this dream.
Detail of acrylic painting, 'Green, Green, the Spirit of the Spring': women and girls in white dance a ritual, by Jenny Badger Sultan.
November 10, 1995

Some kind of an outdoor event. It seems as if groups of people do things in turn. I canít recall the type of thing that is involved. Then there is a group that goes out into the flat performing area and begins to do something that seems very different in character. It is a group of women and little girls. They are in rows. They are dressed in white and my impression is that their faces are powdered white and they have herbs stuffed in their long sleeves and peeping out.

They are moving, dancing in a ritual way. It is mysterious. (They may have white wrapped around their heads--not clear.) I am reminded of Voudon, Candomble, etc.


Waking, I think that this dream is the flip side of yesterdayís football game. Warming up, the Galileo team did a lot of claps and chants and ritual routines to get their energy up--but it also seemed threatening to me. Then after the game (they won, 20-14), several players came over to the Lowell side, their faces were blacked, and they patted their bodies and made aggressive, scornful gestures and noises. It really struck me as threatening and awful. It also felt like a very PRIMATE type of behavior.

My dream seemed to offer an antidote to this experience.

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