Dream Journal 1 deals with anger. The bottom layer of comic book panels reconstructs a nightmarish sequence in which two friends fight violently. The anger of this dream traps them in a vortex of repeated panels, their conflict echoed over and over again, surrounded by angry faces like a series of funhouse mirrors gone wrong. This is a dream where you wake up feeling terrible, tense, and on edge all day.
The layers over this collage deal with that anger. It still glows red, almost like a wound, through the diagonal ‘rift’ across the painting. The greens and blues seek to sooth this angry wound. There, there, they say. Ssshhhh. It was only a dream. That’s all it was. Just a bad dream. It’s okay now.
This piece also deals with letting go of that anger. This isn’t denial. It is acknowledgement and then working through uncomfortable feelings to the other side of them, moving through both light and darkness. Anger is just one thing we cling to in our lives.
Many times we feel anger as a way of protecting something we care about. Anger is a shield we put up around us to keep something valuable from being hurt or threatened. It may form a defensive barrier against feeling an underlying sadness. If we hold on to our anger, though, it becomes a disruptive force in our lives. Sometimes we have to dig deeper and ask ourselves, what are we hurting about — or trying to avoid hurting about — underneath all that anger? By getting to the source, we can diffuse its negative energy.
This painting moves through the process of considering anger, identifying those underlying sources, and releasing that energy in a creative, transformative way. In one of the panels, now buried under layers of paint and collage, the Human Torch shouts to Spider-man, “You’re a free man, Spidey!” It became our mantra for the rest of the piece. Free. To do anything we want. To experience anything. Free to let go of anger and open up to life. Free to create and destroy. You’re a free man, Spidey. Don’t waste that.