Otherworldly, provocative, and strange, Awake in the Dream World channels the looming, historical grimness of the classic fairy tale, illuminating the dichotomy between the real and imagined through the context of fantasy, and bringing to life a macabre ensemble of folkloric characters. Awake in the Dream World is a mid-career retrospective of artist and author Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife, bestselling novel turned feature film), reflecting her talent for cultivating a captivating narrative exclusively through pictures and her own confrontations with life, mortality, and magic.
Niffenegger's fantastical body of work is reminiscent of renowned pen and ink predecessors such as Edward Gorey, Aubrey Beardsley, Egon Schiele, Edward Dulac, and Horst Janssen, but with a brutally honest and unapologetically strange female perspective that touches upon the universal trials of life—death and decay, love, jealousy, redemption, and the inevitability of change. Her works on paper, lithographs, and aquatints reflect the often surreal narratives of her artist's books. Through self-portraiture, Niffenegger reveals her own self-assurance and whimsy alongside anxiety and loneliness, probing darker corners of the human heart and mind, often exploring the hopeless struggle with what Shakespeare called "this bloody tyrant, Time."
Essays by Audrey Niffenegger, National Museum of Women in the Arts Curator of Book Arts Krystyna Wasserman, and Art Institute of Chicago Curator and School of the Art Institute Professor Mark Pascale explore the artist's influences and work.
Published in conjunction with the June 21—November 10, 2013 exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
About the Author
Audrey Niffenegger is a visual artist and writer who lives mostly in Chicago and occasionally in London. She has published six books, including the novels The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry. She helped to found the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts. Her art has been exhibited by Printworks Gallery in Chicago since 1986. She is a Professor in the Fiction Department of Columbia College. Her current projects include her third novel, The Chinchilla Girl in Exile, and a ballet, Raven Girl, in collaboration with Wayne McGregor for the Royal Opera House Ballet.
Krystyna Wasserman is currently Curator of Book Arts at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C. She established NMWA’s Library and Research Center, serving as its director from 1987 through 2002. She now oversees the museum’s collection of more than 1,000 artists’ books. She has curated more than thirty exhibitions of artists’ books, sketchbooks, and illustrations, including The Book as Art: Twenty Years of Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts (2006). Wasserman is a member of NMWA’s Library Fellows, a program she developed to support the creation of artists’ books.
Mark Pascale is a lithographer who has been active in the Chicago art world for more than 30 years, as a curator, researcher, and teacher. He is Curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings at The Art Institute of Chicago, and concurrently Adjunct Professor of Art in Print Media, at School of the Art Institute. His numerous exhibitions and publications include Contemporary Drawings from the Irving Stenn Jr. Collection, and Jasper Johns: Gray published by The Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently working on a retrospective exhibition of the prints and drawings of Martin Puryear.