Blaine Rubenson

Artist Statement

Imagine your most precious dream. The dream you think of on cold, grey days or when you need to feel peace. Then, your most feared dream. The dream from which you wake sweaty, shaken, and scared. Remember the characters, the plot, or the chaos; remember how it smelled, or the color of the light, or the fuzziness of not remembering at all. Imagine those things, which swam around in your head for maybe a day or two, maybe longer, and imagine being surrounded by them in real, waking life.

I’ve never been a good sleeper. When I was five that meant insomnia, nightmares, and vivid hallucinations which consumed and confused me. As I grew older, the symptoms varied--dissociation and perpetual sleepiness among them--and after years of frustration I was diagnosed with narcolepsy, the sleep disorder at the root of my struggles. I’m learning to accept sleep trouble as a part of my life and my identity. I now see my experiences as opportunities for growth, strength, and self-awareness, and I no longer fear them.

During cycles of irregular sleep, I turn to art for consolation. I mindlessly scribble my dreams in an effort to stay awake and spend long, sleepless nights meticulously beading garments. I recreate my dream worlds and their waking counterparts through imagery, characters, and narratives to evoke the same kind of wonder and longing in my audience that I feel for my dreams when I wake from them.

My work also explores the way narcolepsy affects my relationships and daily life. My film piece revisits a nighttime routine my parents and I shared for years, and Like Clockwork shows the physical evidence of sleep ‘episodes’ throughout my day, most often in class. In maintaining a balance between art that is meditative, comforting, and healing for me and art that promotes empathy and understanding in the viewer, I hope to create a mutually powerful experience for myself and my audience.