Audrey Niffenegger discusses her artwork


Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Starling's Funeral.” (Courtesy Collection of Audrey Niffenegger, Chicago, Illinois)
June 22, 2013

Audrey Niffenegger comments on a few of the works found in her first museum exhibition, “Awake in the Dream World.” Roger Catlin

Audrey Niffenegger comments on a few of the works found in her first museum exhibition, “Awake in the Dream World.”

“Moths of the New World,” 2005

This painting began from a scrap of a book page I found. It was perhaps from a reference book, it pictured various moths and the heading was Moths of the New World. The phrase stuck in my mind, and it eventually became a short story (it is the second story in the series that begins with “The Night Bookmobile”). So it’s still in the mix, since I am still working with it in a different form. It’s expanding.

“The Starling’s Funeral,” 2008

This is part of a series of work I made as a memorial to [influential English fashion magazine editor] Isabella Blow after she died. The carriage is based on her funeral carriage. I wanted to show her as a dead starling, someone sleek and beautiful that all the other birds have come to say goodbye to.

“Raven Girl, And They Lived Happily Together Ever After,” 2012

“Raven Girl” is a fairy tale I wrote for Wayne McGregor to make a ballet from. I tried to include some of the important themes and tropes of fairy tales and ballet, such as birds, transformation, the girl being rewarded at the end when her prince appears. The Raven Girl has overcome difficulties to achieve her true form and so she deserves her prince. This is the two of them flying together, the last image in the book.

“The Three Incestuous Sisters,” 1985-98

This image was the second one I imagined for this book. The first image was a dream I had of the three sisters sitting in chairs, not speaking. In the dream I knew that they were the three incestuous sisters (in that funny way you know things in dreams). This image is meant to make that idea part of the story, a sort of underlying idea before the action properly begins. It influences their behavior but is never referred to again.

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