Don Widmer Resume

Artist Statement

I am interested in how image, sound and movement can be combined in performance and book arts to create a process of transformation.  In particular I look to traditional cultures, such as Indonesian or Pacific Northwest Coast Native American.  These cultures use art and drama to transport the audience (who often also participate in the drama) to a separate reality.  Lately, I have been exploring sound and movement both in my books and in dramatic performances, where I incorporate elements from the book and paper realm (handmade paper wings, the sounds of the letterpress studio) in the performance.  I believe that invoking visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses along with text allows the viewer to become a more fully immersed participant in the story.

The story I often wish to tell is from the perspective of the lone individual who feels a sense of isolation even within his own community.  In the case of the criminal, the social outcast, or the addict, this may be clear.  But I’m interested in delving deeper into the definition of outsider, and expressing societal alienation in more subtle ways… the woman who suffers silently with a chronic disease, for instance, or the depressed son who lives in the shadow of his famous father.  I search libraries, archives, newspapers, antique malls, and online to find stories of forgotten individuals, people on the fringes of society.  Once found, I like to create a new structure for their stories.  That structure might be a sculptural book, a dramatic performance with sound and movement, or a sheet of handmade paper with images and text.  My art creates a real or imagined past for these individuals, utilizing elements which express their cultural belonging simultaneously with their sense of personal isolation.