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Issue 20, Artefactos | April 2017


Beata Wehr: Mixed Media Books

Most of my work relates to my experience as a European living in the U.S.I came here in 1985 from Warsaw. My connection to Poland is very strong, so culturally I belong to the two worlds. In my work I address the problems with complete understanding on both verbal and non-verbal levels, adaptation, nostalgia, isolation, dislocation and identity.

I found artists’ books to be especially useful in talking about the issues of identity, immigration, and dislocation. I like their intimate format, and the fact that many media could be combined on the pages, creating layers of images. I often mix images with writing, pieces of newspapers, found objects and other elements reflecting the everyday life in the US as well as my links to Poland. I try to combine two different experiences from two different worlds in this “in between” situation. I started to think that it is possible, although my native life, language, landscape, culture are so different then my life here.

For a long time I have been collecting found little metal objects, whose history and sometimes purpose were unknown to me. I have used these pieces in many of my works dealing with issues of time and transience.

I am also interested in recording the passage of time, obsessed by the changes happening in our life, changes of our fragile bodies, our minds. I am curious how the past determines the present and how what is happening now influences our thinking about the past. The rhythm of life is different depending on the place we live, our age, occupation, gender, and role in a family and in a society. I am trying to capture chunks of time comparing different periods of my life, recording transience by creating journal-like books, time lines, letters from the past, calendars. In my work the past is mixed with the present, experiences from Poland with those from here. Some of the materials I am working with are found, so their history is unknown to me, and this mystery creates yet another layer of thinking about the time with all what is unknown and can only be guessed. Time and transience are very important factors in our life, and this why I am choosing them as a subject.

In my work I also comment on human behaviour and events happening here and far away. These subjects together with immigration and transience are present on the pages, often in a somewhat cryptic way, waiting for the viewer to discover them.

Experiencing influences of the two different cultures—Polish and American—shapes my identity and perception of life, and this is what I want to communicate to a viewer.

–Beata Wehr

Beata Wehr is an award winning visual artist and educator from Warsaw, Poland. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, traveling back to Europe every year. She graduated from Warsaw University in Poland with M.A. degree in art history and from University of Arizona with M.F.A. in painting. She paints and creates artist’s books and mixed media objects examining in her work ideas of home, place, time, transience and multicultural experiences. Her works were shown in numerous international and national exhibitions and are included in over 60 public collections in the USA and abroad. Beata currently teaches at Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ.

The thumbnail images that accompany each piece in this issue are details from Beata’s work.


Beata Wehr: Mixed Media Books