Books As
Aesthetic Objects
A unique collection of contemporary
rare books The core of the original
gift to FAU in 1998

Dreambook I

By Virginia Sterns
1984

artist book; dreambook 1; virginia sterns; 1984(Click to view larger image)

Virginia Stearns’s powerful collages and painting paradoxically portray the evanescence of dreams.The pages include hand-printed narrative texts, for instance the first one: "During the earthquake something dropped. It rolled out thru the door & was a wreck by the time we caught up with it. The car wouldn’t start anyway so we returned towards the house laughing. Somehow a cool tall well dressed man was there near the rubble. We gravitated together but when we started to touch he began to evaporate, leaving his face, then nothing..."

Although the figures are large, Stearns suggests dreamy impermanence in the incorporeal male figure with a gray wash that contrasts with the patterned clothes and boldly colored background of the seeking (and perhaps dreaming?) female self.

The other pages repeat the theme of searching and incompleteness, sexuality, and odd juxtapositions. In one dream about saving a drowning man, the foreground figure dials frantically into a calculator. The colophon page uses carefully crumpled tissue paper to insinuate that two figures, perhaps a man and a woman, are floating in a world of water; they are substantial but veiled.

This one-of-a-kind book gives the viewer a feeling of immediacy, of direct hand-to-hand communication with the artist. Its effect is stunningly personal and intimate – and beautiful.

Judith Klau