Artist creates stunning night dress from thousands of Walgreens sleeping pill prescriptions after suffering from insomnia


Night dress made of sleeping pill prescriptions 
By: Tanya Malhotra

A stunning, floor-length night dress made out of 2,000 Walgreens prescription labels for sleeping pills is the latest creation of a Minnesota artist, whose previous works include a life-size wedding dress made from thousands of canceled postage stamps.

“Dreaming of Sleep” is the title of the new work by Erica Spitzer Rasmussen, an artist from St. Paul, who specializes in making handmade paper garments.

Rasmussen uses materials including cotton, tissue paper and scanned prescriptions custom-printed on peel-and-stick wallpaper by Spoonflower.com, a custom fabric and wallpaper website.

The inspiration for it came to Rasmussen in a dream, but derives before that from her own reliance on sleeping pills.

“I’m an insomniac,” she said. “About three years ago, after a particularly restless night, I finally fell asleep in the early morning hours. When I reached a few fleeting moments of sleep, I dreamed about sleeping peacefully. Shortly thereafter, the alarm clock woke me and I wrote ‘dreaming of sleep’ on a pad of paper next to the bed.

“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.”

It took Rasmussen, 47, four months and four eight-foot rolls of custom wallpaper to make the four-foot tall nightgown. It involved her cutting and stitching some 2,000 replicas of sleeping pill prescription labels.

“I then integrated a secret note to myself into the hem and completed the work,” she said.

Rasmussen calls the nightdress a “sculptural object,” designed for exhibiting rather than wearing. “Although I made it my size, the structure has no give,” she said. “I can't wear it without damaging it.”

Rasmussen describes herself as “an artist who creates mixed media and handmade paper garments.” She exhibits in galleries and museums internationally.

She has created other unusual garments in the past. The most similar to her latest work was a life-sized wedding dress called Mail Order Bride that she made in 2007 out of thousands of canceled postage stamps, collected from around the world over eight years. It was designed as a comment on the mail-order bride business and its growth in the Internet age.

Rasmussen is also a full professor of studio arts at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she teaches textile design and shares her enthusiasm for harnessing the latest high-tech innovations.