Iwona Biedermann

My identity as a photographer comes from the need to find a language that bridges very different life experiences. Since arriving from Poland in 1981, the camera became a bridge for overcoming language barriers and for creating an understanding of the differences and similarities between cultures and people within my new home.

Driven by choices, and influenced by my personal and collective histories, I created a new reality woven together by cultural similarities and differences. It is through time and experience of living with cultural diversity that made it possible for me to stretch my emotional, intellectual and artistic borders.

During the past twenty years I have worked as a photographer professionally in documentary, journalism, portraiture, and artistic arenas. I have had more then a 20-year commitment to documenting diverse communities in Chicago.

In the course of my own assimilation, I have been acutely aware of change and the good side of nostalgia in preserving fragments of the past and rituals—those fleeting moments that opened my awareness of the present moment, from which the future is born and the past celebrated.

Photography is not just about remembering but about finding meaning in common human experience. Sometimes a photograph helps to bring out hidden truths in the everyday world by pointing to detail and asking the viewer to extrapolate the mystery or simply to find what is human in all of us no matter our skin color, language or the habit we wear.

Naturally, I aspire as a photographer to be a visual poet in concentrating the split moment into depth and substance, but I am also humble enough to recognize my value in simply serving well the people and communities I photograph by enhancing their own collective memories.

In my recent work I returned to simple forms of line, light and color. I’m interested in a process of observation and interpretation. The essence of my approach to photography is in being present, open and ready to recognize.