Julie Brown

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20042005 Forum on Sleep and Dreams

Julie Brown

English, Fine Arts, Visual Studies

College '05

Dreaming as a Model of Inspiration

What role do dreams play in artistic inspiration, and what are some of the problems in translating between textual and visual media. I expect to develop a minimum of one painting for every fully developed dream that is recorded in the past year and a half. I hope to discover why certain images fascinate and how they re-present themselves in artistic practice. Using the paintings as dream charts, one can begin to see the connections between colors, forms, images, relationships, situations, ideas in their manifest form—one can begin to think about how dream elements accrete into meaning.


At stake on a personal level is my interest in the notion of originality, and the question of whether one can create something out of nothing. Are artists geniuses who imagine wondrous things entirely of their own creation, or are they sensitive organizational systems who synthesize data culled from the world? If we are the latter, the field for creativity is open and free, and there is no sense in perpetual struggle for something entirely new and original. What we create must always refer to something else, but it must also always be “new” because no two people, as they are separate across time and space, will synthesize data in the same way.