Awake in the Dream World

  • Collection of Audrey Niffenegger, Chicago, Illinois
    Audrey Niffenegger, The Three Incestuous Sisters (detail), 1985–98; Collection of Audrey Niffenegger, Chicago, Illinois
  • Collection of Larry and Laura Gerber, Highland Park, Illinois
    Audrey Niffenegger, Observation (detail), 2010; Collection of Larry and Laura Gerber, Highland Park, Illinois
  • Collection of Audrey Niffenegger, Chicago, Illinois
    Audrey Niffenegger, The Starling’s Funeral (detail), 2008; Collection of Audrey Niffenegger, Chicago, Illinois

Awake in the Dream World: The Art of Audrey Niffenegger on view June 21–November 10, 2013.

A fantastic, strange, and mysterious world, real and imagined, is featured in this mid-career retrospective of artist and best-selling author Audrey Niffenegger.

Paintings, drawings, prints, and book art—239 pieces in total—reflect her captivating narrative talent and her explorations of life, mortality, and magic. Her narratives give insight into universal experiences such as the need for love, the inevitability of death, and the peculiar sensation of the passage of time.

The exhibition is organized around three themes:

  • “Adventures in Bookland” focuses on Niffenegger’s artist’s books and visual novels;
  • “States of Mind” presents the artist’s self-portraits; and
  • “In Dreamland” explores the darker corners of the human heart and mind, often revealed in dreams and fantasies.

The protagonists of Niffenegger’s narrative art are usually women. The artist understands the psychology and motives that drive women to unpredictable encounters, provoking powerful emotions and unfulfilled desires. Her heroines are occasionally doomed, they misbehave, but they are always daring, passionate, and independent.

The artist says, “We should look carefully at ourselves and things around us, and not be oblivious to life as it passes us by. I use fantastic elements in my art to startle people into noticing and paying attention.”


Awake in the Dream World Programs


Awake in the Dream World Blog Posts


Awake in the Dream World: The Art of Audrey Niffenegger has been organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Major exhibition funding has been given by Margaret M. Johnston, an anonymous donor, and the friends of Audrey Niffenegger.