Last Thursday in the early afternoon, one of Agnes Scott’s most loved Studio Art professor, Anne Beidler, spoke for the Academic Colloquia and Monthly Exchange lecture series on her work during her 2016-2017 sabbatical. Instead of spending this year of break in her teaching career somewhere else in the world as many others do, Professor Beidler stayed in her print shop on the ground floor of Dana Fine Arts Building (where she usually teaches) and re-imagined her past travels through means of creative work.
Having an academic background in medical procedures, Professor Beidler is ceaselessly fascinated by human bodies and the recreations of them. Crafted with precision of a scientist as well as compassion of an artist, her works carry various symbols of femininity across temporal and geographical spaces.
This piece, entitled The Red Thread, is created in the format of a diptych, which is one piece of work with two flat plates that converses with each other. In this project, the left side reflects the past while the right side reflects the present. The vertical red streak on the young woman’s body defines the boundaries between the two periods in her career; however the meandering red thread runs across the piece to connect the two periods. Adopting the Chinese notion of red thread, which signifies a destined encounter or event, Professor Beidler uses this piece as a momentum for her newly conceived artistic inspiration.
“I encountered China,” says Professor Beidler, “on a faculty trip years ago. Before then my works were strictly black and white; but now, I have my red.” Shortly after this trip to China, Professor Beidler adopted two Chinese girls and raised them in Decatur. The younger one, Qiuyi, is a current prospective student of Agnes Scott!
In her slightly earlier exhibition, Gardens and Gateways, Professor Beidler showcased her prints of her daughters’ faces and the imaginary red threads weaving their fates together. Also a reader of Buddhist philosophy, Professor Beidler often employs the figures of Buddha as another signifier of her fascination with the East.
Having been a fan of her works ever since my arrival at Agnes Scott, I am always galvanized by her delicate treatments of Eastern elements and the amount of emotional investment she weighs in these projects. If you were frequent to the most popular reading room in the library, you must have already encountered Daphne, a print of hers in her earlier career. Professor Beidler contends that she has been striving for the “least conventional but the most expressive” representation of feminine figures in artworks, which exposes the complexity within a woman from a back angle.
A well-loved professor of printmaking, bookmaking, and illustration and a Journey leader to New York City in SUMMIT, Professor Beidler has been teaching at Agnes Scott for 25 years now. With the symbol of red thread and many other iconic elements, she seamlessly explores the borders of culture through her creative processes.