Thinking Of Another (1998) Oil on Canvas from my BFA senior show

Thinking Of Another (1998) Oil on Canvas from The Tube Series (Made at Mass Art by K. Palana)

If you were to ask me whether I’d prefer to be the age I am now (37) or eighteen again, I would choose thirty seven over and over hands down. For many reasons, It’s just so much nicer being me now than the me full of insecurities and inner turmoil starting out in the world back in the nineties. So why do I keep having the same reoccurring dream (for seven years now) that I am going back to my Alma Mater, Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston to enroll as a student again?

Honestly, the Mass Art marketing and recruitment team must be on to some brilliant techniques to actually infiltrate  and brand the dreams of prospective students, particularly the ones over age thirty. When I was a Freshman, I was actually one of the youngest people there. The average age of a Freshman at Mass Art back in 1994 was age twenty seven!

At age nineteen when I actually began majoring in Painting, I REALLY began to feel uneasy. My fellow majors were in their twenties (which seemed so mature at the time), thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties. We also had a student just down the hallway in another studio that clocked in at ninety nine years of age!

When we all introduced ourselves, my classmates would talk about their skydiving adventures, travels on safari in Africa, experiences in previous occupations, business ventures, and the epiphanies that led them to drop everything, wipe the slate clean, and become students once again. Most of them started out in careers that were pushed on them by well-meaning parents or seemed so much more sensible than a life in the arts. Me? I was the odd one out just out of high school with not much in the way of life experience. However, at least I was lucky enough not to have been talked out of studying art and was doing what my classmates wished they had been able to do earlier.

Hootchie Cootchie (1998) Oil on Canvas. The Tube Series (By K. Palana at Mass Art)

Hootchie Cootchie (1998) Oil on Canvas from The Tube Series (Made at Mass Art by K. Palana)


So, in my dream, I’m not actually eighteen again. I’m the me of the present (thank Goodness!) Sometimes I am enrolling in an MFA in Graphic Design. Sometimes it’s Painting. I usually conveniently enough have amnesia that in real life I am married, gainfully employed, have two young children, and live in Rome, Italy. Sometimes when I have the dream my husband exists but we don’t have kids and we are living between Rome and Boston. Once I had the dream and I DID have my kids and Mass Art just happened to have a nice Day Care Center for them to go to while I made my ART. (Here is where I pause and say ART in my most puffed up, pretentious, over-the top way imaginable.) I am not at Mass Art to merely take a course or get a new degree. I’m making my ART. This is some important shit I am doing here, as one of my current students in Rome might say. It might even alter the course of human history or defy the laws of physics or bring about world peace. Yes, my eighteen year-old self was somewhat delusional, but maybe there’s a small part of me now that still values art for art’s sake and the dream is trying to bring it out of me again. Take that, daily planner and to-do list!

Last night was the latest episode in this reoccurring dream. I had no kids, but my husband existed though it was unclear if he’d approve of my decision to enroll. I decided to get some practical information this time around. I went to the first receptionist I could find and the cheerful middle-aged African American Bostonian happily told me that yes, I am in their computer. It’s official. I’m enrolled. “How does payment work?” I asked, still wondering what program I was in as well as if I REALLY needed yet another degree. She said it would be “due on May 24th and that I can do installments.” Here is where I wish this had been a lucid dream. If I had any control, I would have at least given myself a full scholarship.

Empty (1998) Oil on Canvas. The Tube Series (By K.Palana at Mass Art)

Empty (1998) Oil on Canvas. The Tube Series (By K.Palana at Mass Art)

Anyway, I can’t really tell you what my dream means or why I keep having it. It started after I turned thirty (those marketers!) and had moved to Rome. I honestly don’t think I WANT to be a full-time student again. I like my life in Rome and my career teaching at The American University of Rome, running the Film and Digital Media Program, and the flexibility I have to work on my own multimedia and animation projects. However, there is a part of me that wants to back off from the digital realm and get my hands dirty with paint and canvas, ink and paper, clay, and all things gloopy. There is a part of me that thinks that perhaps a Painter does still live inside this Digital Multimedia Artist and that perhaps I need to find some time to focus more on creating art for art’s sake. I mean, it would be nice to still have something once the electricity goes out.

Well, I guess if I don’t act on my dream now, I still have my forties, fifties, sixties, and age ninety nine to get things right. Don’t worry Mass Art. I’m sure I’ll send an alumni donation check well before then.