Karen Hanmer

Artists' Books & Installation

Gallery: Photo-Based Work

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Title: Letter Home

Letter Home

Letter Home | 2004 | $500

Pigment inkjet prints

fully open size 8 x 19 x 3"

Edition of 20, one copy remaining

A young Navy wife’s letter written from Europe to her family on the farm.


The flag book, like other dynamic book structures, has the unfortunate potential to overwhelm content and artistic intent. Not so for Karen Hanmer’s flag book Letter Home. Here the book’s structure and its exterior and interior environments are fully integrated with content to embody and illuminate meaning. Using family photographs and dual, private voices — a letter to family and an interior commentary — Hanmer creates a visual narrative/diorama of Midwestern roots, geographic displacement, familial relationships, personal and interpersonal anxieties, and 1950s cultural transition. The work evokes emotions of longing and loss without being sentimental, as well as hope for the future that is flavored with Midwestern pragmatism. The revelatory quality of Hanmer’s flag book is quite appropriate to its content, creating a satisfying and multi-layered experience for the viewer.
— Max Yela, Head, Special Collections, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee