Cathy DeForest, “Dream of the Dance & Dance of the Dream”

Portfolio top

Inside portfolio box

Close up of silk scarf text

Arches and ballerina etchings

Etching close up


Cathy DeForest (Ashland, OR)

Dream of the Dance & Dance of the Dream
Original photographs taken with Olympus 1 camera in Tuscany. Design work done in Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. Etching plates made by John Sullivan of Logos Graphics and Katzuko Watanabe at Kala Printmaking. Studio Photo etchings printed à la poupée on Somerset Velvet Paper with Conrad and American French Tool etching presses. Title of book letterpress printed on silk with a Universal I printing press. Clamshell portfolio box and leather stands created by Sabina Nies. Weighted leather stands are painted with acrylic paints Roses made with French silk ribbon. Arches were digitally created with a combination of Lewis Anderson’s arch photograph and Cathy DeForest’s painted tyvek and monotypes. Arches printed by Harmonic Design and assembled by Sabina Nies. Repetto ballet point shoe handmade in France.
Edition size: 4
Text is printed on one silk scarf and on five photo etchings
Dimensions open: 11.5 x 17 x 15 inches
Dimensions closed: 11.5 x 17 x 3.5 inches

I created The Dream of the Dance & the Dance of the Dream as an intimate invitation into beauty and discovery. The top of the silk draped portfolio box features a twirling ballerina printed on silk. As the viewer opens the portfolio box, the title of the artist book, The Dream of the Dance & the Dance of the Dream appears on the interior lid, letterpress printed on silk. Next, a rose draped invitation awaits:

“Dance is a threshold to enchantment
Twirl the dancer in your hands, move with her grace
Enter her realm
Allow yourself to be captivated.”

Beginning with a silk scarf, the viewer is enticed to unfold a set of three arches, hold a ballet shoe, and place five hand inked etchings of an Italian ballerina on leather stands draped in silk roses. From then on, the viewer is encouraged to choreograph any dance they choose to create.

When I first photographed Valentina Romi, a ballerina from Siena, I was enchanted. Many years passed before I felt I had a book design that would convey the beauty of the ballerina’s movements and the elegance of dance. I wanted every aspect of this book to be an interactive experience of exquisite beauty and enchantment. With this intention, I turned my photographs into etchings and hand inked each plate à la poupée to bring out the radiance of the dancer. A performance by the San Francisco Ballet gave me the idea of inviting the viewer to twirl the dancer in front of an arched stage.

I chose text that conveyed enchantment. The text is from Lorin Roche’s book, The Radiance Sutras, his translation of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. I printed the words of the sutra on a silk scarf so that the scarf could be draped in front of the ballerinas. I also hand inked a line from the sutra on the back of each intaglio etching so that when the ballerina is twirled, text is part of the viewer’s experience.

In keeping with my intention to create this book as a series of discoveries, the bottom of portfolio box contains a silk wrapped holder for five leather wrapped and hand painted stands, a tray for displaying the photo etchings, and a ballet point shoe handmade in France by Repetto containing this quote from Martha Graham, “Wherever a ballerina stand is holy ground”.

I am grateful for my delightful collaboration with Sabina Nies who created the beautiful clamshell box and the interior objects. My hope is that each person will experience The Dream of the Dance & the Dance of the Dream as an intimate offering of beauty and an invitation to discovery.