This new work explores the feelings of longing, foreboding
and completive reflection on life. In comparison to earlier
work it is made of simplified layers, that represent a more
subdued vision. Developed as woodcuts around 1990, I
transformed the images into screen prints for this project.
They represent the vigor of my early feminist-focused work.
The un-named 2001-present
One series of large scale prints was begun in summer 2001 as an
exploration into the myth of Persephone and her descent into
the underworld. Then the events 9/11 took place. The work
was completed as a memorial to the thousands of anonymous
people who were lost in the underworld of burning steel.
I have recently begun to re-work these images in terms of the
un-named and faceless people who are caught in the violence of
war or political situations beyond their control. Are they sisters,
fathers, mothers or children? How much loss they must have
In my own life, the birth mothers of my daughters, though
never to be known, are always present for me like ghosts of
memories. In her introduction to Karin Evans’ book, “Lost
Daughters of China”, Anchee Min takes on the role of stern Ai-
yi or auntie, telling the “raw truth” of their histories. She tells
the lost daughters that for their birth mothers, who for whatever
tragic reason had to relinquish them, they will be forever “a
broken arm hidden inside the sleeve.”
Reclaiming the female body 1987-1999
I have searched for an image that conveyed essential woman,
not determined by notions of age or physical beauty or the gaze.
Variations on a simple crouch or squat seem most compelling.
It is a stance of our daily life functions of giving birth, of
elimination and of bathing. This simple visual metaphor seems
an appropriate starting point for reclaiming images of ourselves.
These images are intended to transcend specific age and reveal
the constant, internal and evolving self found in the private
space of thought, body and the personal. The women’s bodies in
each piece are close to life size and can be placed on the wall in
order to create a dynamic exchange with the viewer.
Gardens and Gateways 2001-2014
This body of work includes a collection of inter-related mixed
media books, paintings and prints created beginning around
2000 and continuing to the present. Each of the included
segments interweaves my areas of interest as an artist. My
process is to employ my own drawings, photographs and prints
in my work.
I also use collected materials, ephemera from previous projects,
and found images. Media include ink, paint, wax, sewing,
collage and found objects. Objects like tin niches (small places
of worship) seem to echo the temple and garden entryways I
have photographed and become a kind of gateway within a
As a printmaker I have always been interested in the technical
overlay of print methods and images. I like to experiment with
ways in which printmaking media may begin to come together
with painting. As well, the concept of the artist book as an
object held in the hand or viewed closely thus creating an
intimate interaction between artist and viewer, are all at the
center of my visual exploration.
On my first trip to China, I brought along a small book of one
hundred poems by Han-shan from the T’ang Dynasty. These
writings by the reclusive, yet deeply socially aware Buddhist
monk who is thought to have lived anywhere between 627 and
750 A.D. I have returned to this volume many times.
Here translated by Burton Watson is #29
I spur my horse past the ruined city;
The ruined city, that wakes the traveler’s thoughts:
Ancient battlements, high and low;
Old grave mounds, great and small.
Where the shadow of the single tumbleweed trembles
And the voice of the great trees clings forever,
I sigh over all those common bones—
No roll of the immortals bears their names.
Han-shan’s poem echoed as I visited famous spots such as Xian’
s Terracotta Warriors, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall
and most strongly when walking down an unknown street in a
city or looking out a train window across fields lit with many
little fires from farmers’ brush piles. It was the unnamed souls
of Han-shan’s poems, whose presence is strong in these places
that have resonated most deeply for me. China’s history in the
recent centuries makes this sentiment more poignant.
Ancient images of the Buddha and the goddess, Guan Yin, who
gives solace to the hurt and provides the blessing of children,
evoke a place of contemplation and peace. As well I find the
ever-transforming garden to be a compelling and hopeful visual
The works I have created contain layered levels, like pages, that
become gateways to new images the same way garden or
temple gateways invite exploration and evoke an ancient place
often visited perhaps over multiple centuries by anonymous
|Anne Beidler---Artist Statement