On The Other Side of Sea 
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Wen-Li Chen

RESIDENCY 蘭斯柏勒鎮駐村計畫
Statement 創作陳述



“On the Other Side of Sea” is the project that continues to bridge with the previous series of work that attempts to explore and examine the meanings of being women in between different generations, families, and even nations with family archival materials, including photographs, interviews, along with reflections. It is also an attempt to reveal some complexity of being Taiwanese indigenous women living in different sociocultural environments without knowing the mother tongue but deeply feeling connected with their pride and culture rooted and influenced by their grandparents during growing up.  

During the residency at Lanesboro, I worked between the home studio and places at Lanesboro to sort out both sides of family archival photographs and materials from Lanesboro, including interviews, conversations, documentation, videos, and pictures. While sorting out those materials, being far away from family with limited reasons to be together, and reflecting on my recent life experience of being a mother, I thought about the life journey as being human from newborn to the groups until having new branches or another new beginning, the cycle between nature and us, the wholeness giving with care and love, similarity in terms of family life when we tried to document the moment that it may means something to the person that decided to take pictures of, and how to bridge the physical distance if possible.

The ocean splits us into two continents far away, and the river/water connects us again while being present in front of Lanesboro Stone Dam. The memory from the past is flashed back and blurred when time passes without knowing. But the similarities within the love and care from the family are there when a new life comes the way. Even though the memories are blurred, the invisible solid support of the family continues to connect without separation, borders, and limitations.

I feel grateful and privileged to be present, reflect, and express what the new life means to a new immigrant mother with a newborn in a new country.

— Wen-Li Chen, March 2023

   24°10′N 121°20′E  



On the Other Side of Sea


In 2020, I was awarded an artist residency opportunity in Lanesboro. The residency was later rescheduled to summer 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, my three-year-old child was unable to get vaccinated so I decided to participate via a hybrid model. It was an uncertain time yet I collected materials and did on-site research in Lanesboro, while also conducting interviews and workshops online with local residents.

My goals with the residency looked to further develop conversations and reflections around intergenerational issues, namely how histories are made, maintained and made vulnerable to outside factors. By way of personal /family stories and with archival materials, such as documents, photographs or objects, my work with the Lanesboro community uses one’s past encounters and recollections here in the Untied States as a way to seek commonality and difference from my own experiences and family relations in Taiwan.

The result became an artist book and installation to explore “what is lost (unintentional) or omitted (intentional) during generational exchange.”

During my residency, I hosted one-on-one interviews with Lanesboro residents as a means to gather voices and context for my artist book and installation. My goal throughout the residency was to connect to and continue a similar dialogue between individual, family, community and generation.

I had several informal conversations with Lanesboro and Hualien residents individually, and these meetings became a platform to share their stories about their archives, documents, photographs, or stories. To meet their generosity, I offered free scanned services for residents to digitize their family archives. At the end of my residency, I created and shared a digital archival platform that included the residents' interviews and photographs from both Hualien and Lanesboro, in addition to a handmade book reflecting on the experience of this residency and previous projects as another extension of the whole theme. All this was done with the permission of all those who participated.

In closing, I want to thank Anne, Dan, Deb, Jane, Jie-Mei, Kara and Melissa who shared their resources and stories with me so as to grow through their personalities, stories, experience and histories of Lanesboro and Hualien. The place and the people there are the inspiration of this book. 

March 2023



This artist’s book is self-published, with a limited edition of 30 copies, on the occasion of the art exhibition, “On the Other Side of Sea”. Presented and published by Wen-Li Chen (Wenli Tesar), in conjunction with an online publication and on-site installation.

Major support for this activity and the publication is provided by Lanesboro Arts and Minnesota State Arts Board.

Book made and designed by

Wen-Li Chen (Wenli Tesar)

Original archival family photographs provided by

Both Chen and Tesar families

All inside pages printed by

Confluence Studio's Autonomous Mobile Media Unit

Book cover printed by

Angel Bomb

Special Thanks

Anne Flynn, Deborah Wray, Dan Rooney, Darren Tesar, Jane Peck, Jiang Jie-Mei, Kay Tesar, Kara Maloney, Lansboro Art , Lanesboro History Museum, Melissa Wray, Minnesota State Arts Board

Images and text copyright © 2023 by Wen-Li Chen (Wenli Tesar)

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher.

ISBN 979-8-218-16059-3

This book is dedicated to both the Chen and Tesar families.

Wen-Li Chen is the #52 emerging artist in Lanesboro Artist Residency Program during August 3-28, 2021. This activity is made possible by Lanesboro Arts through a grant from the Jerome Foundation.

Wen-Li Chen is the fiscal year 2022 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.