Beth Shadur, “Tremble”

Tremble, mixed media handmade book with poetry by Lois Roma-Deeley and written names on back of all youth killed by gun violence in Chicago during 2014. There is also text on gun violence statistics both nationally and in Chicago. Mixed media with watercolor, pen, wood, acrylic paint on wood, metal hinges. 15” x 70” x 12 open. Cover is shaped like wings, and work is displayed with a spent bullet and white feathers.

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Beth Shadur (Highland Park, IL)

Tremble (2015)
Mixed media
Unique work
Pages: 8
Dimensions Open: 15″ x 70″ x 12″

My new works in the Fragility of the Sacred series comprise paintings and individual handmade artists’ books that include visual arts response to the poetry of Lois Roma-Deeley, with whom I have collaborated on a number of projects since 2004. This has resulted in a series of works both in response to her poetry, and at times, in a total collaboration with her to develop ideas and text that are incorporated in my work. Working with text and images has informed my practice for many years, as I have often included text in my work. The text serves to enhance, define or even to challenge the viewer to think of connections between what might seem to be unrelated images. I often use symbolism, taken from various world cultures, as well as personal symbols, to create works that include images that are both beautiful but also dangerous, including cancer cells, endangered species of plants and animals, ever changing landscapes impacted by man’s usage, and other images.

The new work integrates idea, text and visual images, with the theme of fragility. I am undertaking this work now as I am a mid-career artist, facing aging parents and the loss of my sister to a rare form of cancer. This theme has been present in my life in many aspects and deserves interpretation and exploration. Roma-Deeley’s poetry offers me much to interpret, and synthesizes my personal experiences and responses to the world. I am looking at fragility of not only the wider environment, but the fragility of our own lives, both in terms of physical fragility but in terms of emotional fragility so common in our current world situation. As I age, I understand more significantly how fragile our plans are for our futures, and I am using symbolism to explore and portray these ideas.

To begin this work, I took three weeks as an Artist in Residence at the Leighton Artist Colony, Banff Centre for the Arts. During my time there, the series transformed to Fragility of the Sacred, as I embraced the sacred ground on which I worked. I began to think of what we hold sacred, and how we often devalue that, and how to resolve that issue in my own life. The sacred quality of the landscape and earth is embraced by First Nation people who live in the Banff National Park area; I found their idea of Vision Quest within the land appealing as I worked there, and found passionate inspiration in my research and direct work in the land. This residency informed my ideas of the sacred, and will continue in the years to come. I think this work will be of interest to a wide public; all can relate to issues of fragilty, whether personal, political, environmental, or spiritual.