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dream books

While at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rodgers started the long process of systematically organizing thousands of her own dreams into the 96 drawers of DREAM CATALOGUE, which was awarded the John Adams Fellowship Award. Since moving to Basel, she has continued working with dreams, regularly adding to her catalogue and creating various artists’ books and installations based on the text of the dreams.


The remembered dream is a collection of snippets of image and language arranged unconsciously. It is similar to collage, but each piece changes each time it is remembered just as a traced image is different each time it’s traced over.

Dream Catalogue
Dream catalogue

Dream Catalogue 

2003-ongoing, 96 drawers, 9000+ cards,

wood cabinet 127 x 117 x 40 cm, cards 11 x 7 cm each

Dream Catalogue is an on-going collection of over 20 years of dreams Rodgers has recorded in journals. The dreams are printed on more than 9,000 index cards and organized into 96 categories in 96 drawers. There are 8 main categories (Number, Character, Action, Objects, Color, Family, Place, Nationality), each with 12 subcategories (such as Action: Violence, Family: Mother, and Place: Woods.) Three drawers with instructions and lights encourage viewers to read and handle the cards, even taking whole drawers out to rummage through at a nearby table. In attempting to organize this ephemeral phenomena, Rodgers has been continually aware of the limitations of these 96 drawers for housing the vast complexity and inter-connectedness of her own unconscious history. The catalogue has the potential to expand with every hour she sleeps and it forms the basis for other artworks which often cross disciplines. 

Dream Library
Dream library

Dream Library

2007, Wooden typesetting drawer,

66 x 54 x 5 cm, 585 paper books: 3 x 3.5 x .5 cm each

IThis miniature library of dreams records dreams dreamt between 1999 and 2006. A sectioned drawer once used to organize letters for type setting are used as a set of library shelves with 585 miniature books (3 x 3.5 cm). Each book chronicles the “stories told while asleep” (the dreams dreamt) on a particular night in a particular place. The books are each printed and folded by hand and are arranged chronologically. The places are marked with symbols tracking various homes and travels the artist had during those seven years. The small format is a response to these travels and reflects a desire for “portability.” Viewers are encouraged to read the books and they tend to handle them very delicately, although they often return the books to the wrong place, despite the numbering system, like a memory changes slightly each time it is recalled. 

Dream homes
Dream homes

Dream Homes I & II, 2007

Dream Homes I, 2007, 4 wood and paper house books,

c. 5 x 6 x 12 cm each (4 colors)

Dream Homes II, 2007, 5 wood and paper house books,

c. 5 x 6 x 12 cm each (orange and white)


These small houses are actually long books which record the dreams dreamt between 2000 and 2003. The different colored houses represent different homes in Chicago and Basel where Rodgers slept while she dreamt these dreams. Does where we sleep (at home or not at home) influence the content of dreams? Viewers may open the books by taking the roof off the house which causes the folded pages inside to spring out like a jack-in-the-box, which when open to its full extent extends approximately 10 meters long. The houses are playful both in color and form. They invite associations with childhood toys and viewers tend to laugh when the pages pop out and surprise them. Dreams themselves are continually surprising and playful and, according to some theorists, the key to understanding creativity in the brain.

Dream babies
Dream babies

Dream Babies

2008, acetone transfer on fabric, series of 24 bodies, circa 40 x 40 cm each

The text from 24 different dreams dealing with babies is printed on 24 white body suits each with a black and white element or image from the dream. In the dreams, most of the babies are in dangerous or confusing situations requiring caution and care. They change shape, grow and disappear. A label denotes the year the dream was dreamt counted as “YEARS PRIOR TO MOTHERHOOD” since the project was started and completed during Rodgers’s first pregnancy in 2007-08. The follow on project, DREAM BABIES: EMBODIED BODIES, 2008-2009, is a series of 9 large, black and white photographs featuring the same body suits now worn by her young baby. At full size, the text is legible, making each photograph a page from a book. When the dream text is worn by a healthy growing infant, the dreams are embodied and the difference between a metaphorical baby of a dream and a real baby is highlighted.

Dreams: box
Dream box

Dream Box

2007, box, papers, tweezers, 18 x 13 x 6 cm


Inside this paper box is a collection of dreams in which the word or idea “box” occurs. Taken from the category drawer Object: Box from DREAM CATALOGUE, these dreams are transfer printed on hand-gilded, rolled rice papers. The viewer can use the tweezers to pull out and unroll the pages of this book one by one. The box design was inspired by an 18th century “toy” for children which had quotes from the Bible printed on rolled papers and were meant to be read as prayers before going to bed.