Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program

Studio Arts


Julianne Swartz

Abstract/Artist's Statement

* * *

This is a Dream I Need to Write Down is a series of artist’s books and other text-based artworks exploring intimacy, language, optimism, harmony, memory, and relationships.

* * *

Here are the goals: to remain positive, to be in control, and to remember.

I view my art pragmatically, as a tool to better organize my life toward these ends. I like art that does something for me, art that releases an idea into the world, solves a problem, or fills an empty space. I have difficulty creating art that feels unnecessary, and I’m drawn to practical objects if they’re beautifully constructed. Simply, I have a weakness: I like art that makes me happy.

The form of creative expression that seems best suited to the casual reorganization of my life is writing. Text is a release. Text, that can so effortlessly express deep relationships between things on a single page, is so simple in its fundamentals. When I realized this, I realized that I already possessed all the material I needed to make profound things. Text became my tool, my material, and my impetus.

Thankfully, I was not unpracticed with this medium, unlike one can be with the subtleties of oils, intaglio, or photography. I have a small fear of these latter historically formal materials, because of the amount of experience, knowledge, and craftsmanship they demand. I felt like they were asking me for years of practice that I didn’t fully possess. Unlike these mediums the semantics of language seemed to me to be less practiced and more unconsciously absorbed. The subtle relationships between words are personal for each reader, an understanding of language individually and passively accumulated. Text seemed fair, practical, public. But it was also special, delicate, personal. It appealed my inner existential poet as well as my utilitarian daybook keeper.

The innateness of language made it a practical medium for a practical person. My main use for writing – the writing that you do solely for yourself – has been to remember. I have filled notebooks with language. Some of them feel precious. There is book that I feel organizes my life and dictates my memories. It is this fear of forgetting that pushes me to write – because in such a large world, it is easy to lose sight of both the little details as well as the bigger picture. I strive to remember the best things, and out of them construct for myself, simply, optimism.

I write, instill some order and organization in my world and my memories so they make sense. This results in the practice of constructing memories carefully. I choose particular words and edit phrases. Because the way I write it now is the way I will one day remember it.

At the end of this process, I have seven books and a few text installations. Some of the books address memories and my stubborn retention of them. Others were born out of frustration, others explorations of love. All of them tell of a personal narrative – stories that together organize life for a brief moment under one particular light. This is a Dream I Need to Write Down explores the everyday object of the book: a place where it feels safe to tell big stories, that can be closed and opened, making it easier to breach the line between forgetting and remembering.

Distribution Options

Access restricted to On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

This work is protected by a Creative Commons license. Any use not permitted under that license is prohibited.

Bard Off-campus Download

Bard College faculty, staff, and students can login from off-campus by clicking on the Off-campus Download button and entering their Bard username and password.