An overhead ceiling lamp partially illuminates a dreary room, which is colored in glum blues and black. In the center of the print and within the cone of light that extends downwards from the ceiling lamp are two items. One is a square picture on the wall of a gown with lace that appears to be made of barbed wire. The other is a rectangular object on the floor that may either be a bed or a coffin. On top of the rectangular object lies an indistinguishable shape, perhaps clothing. Strewn on the floor of the room is some sort of debris.

The other objects in the room are a dresser with an open drawer and an open box that rests on top of the dresser. The room is sealed; the two windows are boarded up and the door is locked shut with a plank of wood. Writing along the bottom of the picture gives the piece its title: "Hoping to Bring Her Life Together...It’s Not Hard, It Just Takes Time."


Hoping to Bring Her Life Together...It’s Not Hard, It Just Takes Time, (1995) like other of Hollis Sigler’s artwork, addresses the artist’s struggle with breast cancer. The room probably belongs to the Lady, a character never seen in Sigler’s work but nonetheless its subject and heroine These somber colors are augmented by harsh crisscrosses that pattern the walls, a technique that gives the room the feel of a prison cell.

The empty furniture and tattered debris on the floor are perhaps metaphors for an old life left behind--Sigler uses furniture, most often a vanity, to represent herself pictorially--and a past that has been destroyed. Within this prison shines a light that adds both visual and emotional warmth to the print. The lighter tones of color are nonetheless muted, suggesting that even within this small oasis of illumination joy is still far off.

The dress on the wall, hung like a prized possession, has ruffles and a cut like a ball gown. A possible metaphor for a more elegant and beautiful future, the gown still perpetuates the room’s confining affect by having lace of what appears to be barbed wire.


Hollis Sigler was Professor of Art at Columbia College in Chicago. Before her death in 2001, Sigler received a lifetime achievement award from the College Art Association. Her work has been shown in many public collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Baltimore Museum, The High Museum, The Smithsonian, The Seattle Art Museum of American Arts, and more.

Primary Source

Shark's Ink print publisher