Sculpture Collection


William Christenberry

Dream Building II

 

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, b. 1936
Dream Building II, 1981
Mixed media
27 3/4 x 13 x 13 inches
Gift of Esther and Ralph Bortman
 

Throughout his career, William Christenberry found his muse in the American South. Raised in Alabama but based in Washington for most of his life, Christenberry is best known for his color-saturated images of vernacular buildings in Alabama. He also created sculptures, including his Dream Building series. The artist recalled the inspiration for these works: “I dreamed I was on a winding, back country Alabama road and I around a curve and there before me there was a building with no windows and doors. The building had an unbelievably pitched roof. The walls were covered with these outdoor advertising signs that I love. I got up the next morning and the dream was as clear as a bell.”

As part of this series, Dream Building II is a miniature structure, measuring more than two feet high. It is carefully constructed by hand and covered with signs painted to appear worn, as if the structure has been standing for some time. At the base, Christenberry placed deep red soil from his familial county in Alabama, further grounding the sculpture in both real and imagined memories. But the work is ominous. Its steep roof calls to mind church architecture but also the hoods of the Klu Klux Klan, referencing the light and dark sides of Southern history.