IMAGE OF THE WEEK
River of Sleep was painted in Guinea, West Africa, where I traveled twice to study the dance and music of the region. I was in my late thirties, and had saved up for these trips – almost a month of intensive study, taking two dance classes and two drum classes every day, plus private djembe lessons in downtown Conakry, the capital city. That was nearly twenty years ago, yet the rhythms I learned on those two trips still provide material for the drum classes I teach to this day.
Despite all that output of energy – in 90 to 100-degree heat, bottled water was my biggest expense in Guinea – I had terrible insomnia. There was no air conditioning in our rented house, and the sounds of nighttime birds, strange trilling insects, packs of wild dogs, and unfamiliar voices were more than enough to keep me awake. I dozed, floating through the African night, a fan blowing through my mosquito net (when the electricity worked). As a truck driver sees double yellow lines in his dreams after a long day on the highway, my drowsy slumbering was interwoven with the rhythms and movements of the day. My spine was like taffy in the heat, softened and stretched, liberated from the cold grip of the winter I had left behind. Like a river, the pulse of Africa coursed through my sleep – or was I swimming in it, or woven into it? Primal and intricate, the rhythms and dance of Guinea mingled with my unconscious . . . and re-emerged in this painting.
Wishing you a warm and cozy week.
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