Interested in the physical intimacy of devotional objects, votives, and effigies, Hammond fabricates her own sculptural forms and images to serve as mementos of a person, place or experience. A recent artist’s book, reliquary-like in its scale and concept, pays homage to her dreams. Substance of a Dream, 2012, was made in a small, variable edition of eight with hand additions. Constructed accordion-style, the book can be arranged in different sculptural configurations. This versatility was an important aspect for Hammond. She has long been inspired by the idea of “portable sculpture” or “sculpture in a box,” citing Duchamp’s Boîte-en-valise and the surreal shadow boxes of Joseph Cornell as especially influential. Children’s pop-up books also come to mind, with their enchanting transformation of flat imagery to three-dimensional scenes.
Visually stunning, Hammond’s book is composed of images digitally printed from her sketchbooks and further hand-worked with drawing and painting. Hammond’s sketchbooks, which serve as daily journals, are privy to her thoughts, hopes, anxieties, and fears. Several years ago, as she began to have more vibrant and memorable dreams, she also began to keep a dream journal. In Substance for a Dream, floating paper heads, barely attached to their pages, are laser-cut with the recollection of an intensely vivid dream. Hammond remembers it as a transformative “historic life dream”: a merging of childhood and motherhood with a lush backdrop of brightly colored birds. When the book is opened, the heads fall gently forward like the wings of a butterfly, their cut-out letters producing a lacey, layered transparency between pages. Hammond’s dream is not easily deciphered, and is not meant to be. When lit, however, the words are transposed to the book’s pedestal. Interestingly, the text is more readable as shadow, echoing the dream’s origins in the dim, enigmatic recesses of the mind. Evocative of many associations, from Freudian psychology to surrealism’s appropriation of dream-like imagery, Substance of a Dream, like much of Hammond’s work, is a physical ode to the navigation of memory within the elusive paths of the unconscious.