Featured Artist - Phyllis Fast

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"The Window Did Not Break"
watercolor on paper, 15" x 11"

I group dreams into three broad categories: 1) psychological or emotional healing, 2) tossed-salad memories of the recent past and 3) sacred messages to myself or others. The dream I depicted in "The Window Did Not Break" falls into the third category: a sacred message. I was in a tiny northern Alaskan community at the edge of the Brooks Range of Arctic Village when I had this dream. Arctic Village is home to about 200 Gwich'in Athabascan people, and I was spending a few nights in the home of one of them. I arrived at noon and, after making initial contact with some friends, felt myself drawn into a hypnotic urge to sleep. I stretched out in my sleeping bag, and was instantly asleep.

The dream was short: I was in a house with an eastward-facing window (unlike that of my hostess, which had one window facing west). I was looking through the window from inside when I saw a raven flying toward me. It seemed to be aware of me, but not of the window pane. It did not swerve out of the way, but careened into the window. I awoke with a jolt to the image, and heard the message: "The Window Did Not Break." That happened on Memorial Day, 1994. In my Athabascan culture, ravens represent a message of great change about to occur, usually in the form of tragedy or upheaval. Since then my life changed radically in almost every way. Some days during the following winter I considered suicide because of what I perceived as complete hopelessness in the immediate situation. However, the thought never came to the point of action because I was always reminded of the dream image and the words: the window did not break. I have interpreted that to mean that while my home and family were separated physically from me, and my standard of living disintegrated, I could and did survive.

After painting the basic image, I was guided to add the cryptic marks. The only glyph whose meaning has been given to me in word thoughts associated with their creation is the bilateral fluted figure with the two ovoid shapes along its stem. That depicts my emotional, psychological and sacred status as a woman at the time of the dream. It is an ancient symbol. I have seen similar marks in pictographs.


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