Women in the Arts reveals insomnia's light and dark sides

Sleepless hours are transformed into artistic expression in Insomnia: Landscapes of the Night, on display at Washington's National Museum of Women in the Arts.

The exhibit, on display through November, includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints -- all of which explore the thoughts and emotions that caused 30 artists to lie awake.


Some, such as Mirella Bentivoglio's sculpture, are melancholy pieces that serve as visual representations of sleep-disturbing thoughts.

The dark marble sculpture of a book bound by a lock, Cercare la chiave nel sogno (Search for a Key to a Dream), is Bentivoglio's artistic interpretation of the many heavy-hearted nights she spent mourning the death of her husband.


Still other works are upbeat and vibrant, displaying the product of a nocturnal burst of creative energy.

M. Jordan Tierney's mixed-media creation, Emprise at 4 a.m., pays tribute to that inspiration through a labor-intensive, calculated and almost compulsive assemblage of dominos, fishing floats and lace.

Those technically complicated works are balanced by simple images like Louise Bourgeois' Insomnia, a drypoint-on-cloth line drawing that depicts the bust of a young woman with three sets of eyes.

Though varied in style and tone, all of the 51 works reflect personal stories and experiences.

But the pieces aren't too introspective to be appreciated by the viewer.

The works are honest and poignant, speaking to a larger phenomenon: the entirely human battle between mind and body.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is at 1250 New York Ave., N.W. in Washington. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays. Adult admission is $5. For more information, call 202-783-5000 or visit

For more art events, see page 43.