Becky Beamer, “Evolution of Tradition”

Full-Frame Book Work

This book installation is one solid piece. The hand-made paper pages capture the evolution of tradition that grew from the red dirt. The glass beads were purchased in the same city where the master bead workers formed their pieces.

Close-Up Book Work

This is technically the back of the piece. The pages, the oral history, are slightly hidden from the public. Upon closer examination, the beauty of each page and the repetition of the crafts are revealed.

Close-Up Book Work, 2

This view highlights the precision necessary to complete the work. The found objects and new hand-made objects become one book – one history.

Close-Up Book Work, 3

Please note how each page is carefully sewn into the book. It’s a brand new sewing technique and form developed to use across the metal rods and through the beaded areas. It is similar to sewing on tapes.

Artistic Process

This is part of the stack of paper made by the artist for this book. The muted colors evolve over time similar to material culture.

Becky Beamer
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Evolution of Tradition
Mixed Media: Handmade Paper by Artist, White Glass Beads (Namibian), Found Table, Steel, Thread, Concrete, Dirt from Namibia and Alabama
edition of 1
150+ pages
41.25” x 35” x 26”

Evolution of Tradition

This piece represents a book that is transformed over time, by many makers.

Influenced by outsiders, the craft culture transforms, bends, and builds through pages, not words. The assemblage of pages, hiding behind beadwork, reminds me of a story. A story passed on to family and friends through listening. The story changes, only slightly, over time. It is rooted in the land. The red dirt “feet” represent the land, Namibia and Alabama.

People come from the red land. The red dirt symbolizes the importance of home in both Namibia and Alabama where many culture trends derive. The “feet” were influenced by plastic materiality, like plastics are currently influencing craft culture in Namibia. Though new materials have entered the landscape, beadwork traditions remains strong in the culture.

The white beads start at the floor – a tradition rooted in the land. Overtime, beadwork patterns changed which shown through the bead evolution in this book work. The culture traverses the landscape in parallel – just like the beads. The European style table represents the influence of outsiders on Namibian culture, most noticeably, Europeans.

I conceptualized this piece after an extended research trip to Namibia to document indigenous craft process through video and photography. That experience also inspired a book series and installation called Namibian Craft: the Unknown & the Outsiders.

While I can’t predict exactly how my work will evolve, I do have a call to action. My work always begins with research and environmental immersion. I gather physical materials and books. Then, I will reflect on that research through a variety of expression methods and materials. This is my repetition of process that helps me grow as an artist.

My artistic process is a direct reflection multi-dimensional background in documentary, book arts, and sculpture. Imagine artworks that are rooted in exploration, research, and storytelling that expose technical abilities in video, photography, and bookwork. The final products range from installations, to small press publications, sculptures and films. The common themes that have emerged from my work include questions about personal identity, the importance of cultural preservation, and a curiosity in ethnographic explorations. My mission is to leave a lasting contribution to the fields of ethnology, docujournalism, and book arts by pushing the boundaries and borders of those genres.

Every adventure supplies new inspiration for artistic expression, content and process. I believe in the immortality of art & collaboration. With so many stories to tell, there’s no reason to stay in one place.

– Becky Beamer