"Obsessively Wonderful:" Valerie Hird's Dream Book
Valerie Hird's "Trinity," a handmade art book is a work of art. Hird's delicate paintings in miniature are mysterious, but also captivating, lyrical, and expressive. They form a narrative whose meaning is often hidden but at the same time, tantalizing. Hird's book, a handmade creation immensely appealing to collectors of art books, exists in a numbered edition of 20. Each is in its own box with paintings reminiscent of Tarot cards. They are printed in archival inks on beautiful, white handmade paper. The book is small, 3 5/8 by 4 5/8 inches, with four endpapers that fold to make a little box. Within are some 15 paintings plus a colophon (printer's imprint) in a limited palette of blues, greens, reds and orange with touches of silver leaf. Each is signed with handwritten annotations. Trained as an archaeological illustrator, Hird spent some 25 years with semi-nomadic tribes in the Middle East. Her background and extensive travels inform her art, but today she is based in Burlington, Vermont, where she spends most of her time painting on canvas. "Making an artist book is so labor intensive, it is truly a labor of love," she says. "I don't do them unless the concept calls for an obsessively wonderful object that someone can touch, hold, and carry with them."
The book's visual narrative was a response to a vivid dream. " I approach the paintings from three different perspectives," explains Hird. "I am the dreamer who observes myself dreaming. I'm also the dream itself, and finally, I am myself ---the conscious me --- who stands outside in the real world. " For a complete text of "Trinity" send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To give you some idea of Hird's work, here are three paintings included in the book. "Grass Hands" recalls a section in her dream where she looked down at her hands and saw that they had became absorbed in the landscape. "My hands became the grass I was studying," she recalls. Hands in Middle Eastern cultures are often hennaed and have many interpretations whereas Hird's open hands seem to be the way she connects her thoughts with a simple, welcoming greeting.
According to Hird, the mother/companion painting depicts two sides of a single personality. "It is a dual image of the dreamer depicted as both a mother and as a helper/companion," she says. The twin figures in profile are reminiscent of the women found on wall paintings in Egyptian tombs. In "Escape," the main character dream/daughter became a pearlescent figure within a hoop, unreachable, cold, and separated from her magical world. Hird's book is based on a series of 20 paintings she did over the course of a year. They are on view at the Nohra Haime Gallery at 730 Fifth Avenue (www.nohrahaimegallery.com) and priced at $2,000 each. The books, featured in the gallery show, "Valerie Hird: Dream Paintings" are $250. More about Hird and her work at www.valeriehird.com.