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 experienced.
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.”
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
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 metaphor.
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 wanderers.
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.
|Anne Beidler---Artist Statement