Artist With Insomnia Makes Dress From 2,000 Sleeping Pill Prescription Labels

The inspiration for a Minnesota artist’s “sleeping pill prescription dress” came, fittingly, in a dream.

“I’m an insomniac,” said artist Erica Spitzer Rasmussen, in a blog run by Spoonflower, a company that custom-prints fabric. “About three years ago, after a particularly restless night, I finally fell asleep in the early morning hours … Shortly thereafter the alarm clock woke me and I wrote ‘dreaming of sleep’ on a pad of paper next to the bed.”

It took the artist four months and four rolls of custom wallpaper to make her dress sculpture, called “Dreaming of Sleep.” It is composed of 2,000 replicas of her sleeping pill prescription labels. She scanned a page full of sleeping pill labels, which she had saved for years, and ordered rolls of custom-printed wallpaper from the Spoonflower website.

“In a week’s time, life-size medication labels appeared at my doorstep,” she told the blog.

Rasmussen, 47, is based in Minneapolis and has a BFA and MFA from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. In an artist statement, she wrote, “I use clothing as subject matter because it provides me a ground on which to investigate identity and corporeality.” She also noted that she finds bodily experiences “simultaneously comical and horrifying.”

The bodily experience at the center of this creation is her chronic insomnia, and the medication she must take as a result. When used without the guidance of a physician, researchers have noted that sleeping pills can be habit-forming, can exacerbate depression, and can have a host of detrimental side effects like hallucinations and emotional disturbance.

“Sadly, a satisfying night’s sleep for me generally requires medication. ‘Dreaming of Sleep’ is a self-portrait that illustrates my dependence on those staples of the pharmaceutical industry,” she told Spoonflower.

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