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Inky Press Productions ~ Illinois
( Bea Nettles )

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Inky Press Productions is the press under which Bea Nettles early offset work was published.

UMBC: "An innovator in photomechanical printmaking, Bea Nettles … uses photographic imagery with a variety of processes, some of which she introduced to the lexicon. … Nettles has produced some of the most visually exciting work since the early 70's."


Other bookworks by Bea Nettles
Documenting family

Tarot projects
Women's issues
Works on age and self


Seasonal Turns:
Four Accordion Books

By Bea Nettles
1998. Edition of 800, unnumbered.

Four accordion booklets, each 3.5 x 3.5", 24.5" extended. 56 duotones. Housed in 4.5 x 4.5" plastic box.

The passing of the seasons is represented by strips of sequenced photographs folded into four accordion books. Each book is printed in a different color, combining evocative landscapes and portraits.

Journal of Artist's Books, Fall 1999:"One after another, the images emphasize qualities in each other as the reader moves from one juxtaposed pair to another. The sense of continuity that is created has to do with the skill of Nettles's sequencing, the way she reigns in the multiple levels of photographic meaning enough to anchor the viewer's experience in connections from one image to another. The full effect of the photographs escapes these links, of course, allowing them their more expansive resonance as memory fragments and personal records."


Seasonal Turns book
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The Skirted Garden: 20 Years of Images
By Bea Nettles
1990. Edition of 1000, unnumbered.

8.5 x 11"; 48 pages. Halftones. Softbound.

Major themes in Bea Nettles' work were celebrated in 1990 with the production of this retrospective book. It is a helpful supplement to her other works.

From the Conclusion of The Skirted Garden: “I chose to name this book primarily after a painting by the same name done over 20 years ago... I would also like to speak to the importance of the garden in my own life. I am a gardener, as are my parents. It is not surprising that working with plants is an activity I require. I also love to share starts of plants with others. This gives me the greatest pleasure. Perhaps it contributes to my desire for immortality, but when people tell me they think of me when they see a plant I gave them doing well in their yard I feel great. There are some parallels to making art and tending one’s garden, but again sharing is a key activity. It is reassuring to think that sometimes something that I have nurtured and grown (and here I mean an idea or an image) can be split up, shared, and even better yet transplanted into someone else’s backyard.”
$5 (Last 2 copies)


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I n 1970, Nettles began her photographic interpretation of the Tarot Cards. After five years of work she produced the Mountain Dream Tarot card set. The original version is now out of print. However, she created a digital version of the card set in 2001.

Bea Nettles: "The Mountain Dream Tarot came to me in a dream in the summer of 1970. ... The Tarot deck fascinates me as a highly complex collection of visual information. It is very old, perhaps beginning in ancient Egypt. Its symbolism and imagery could make a lifelong study. I based my imagery on the classic Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Wait. My cards are an intuitive, not a literal interpretation of the ancient deck."


knights of assisi:
A Journey Through the Tarot

By Bea Nettles
1990. Edition of 3000, unnumbered.

8.5 x 8.5" square; 24 pages. Seventeen full color plates. Softbound with full color dust jacket. Decorative end papers with the look and feel of the pink rock walls of Italy. Shot on location in Assissi, Italy, this book features hand-colored portraits based upon the male characters in a deck of Tarot cards.

From the introduction: “These images work on many levels and provide a rich resource for contemplation. The broadest range of human personality is symbolized by these suits from the aggressive/intellectual swords to the passive/emotional cups. It was this range I wished to portray and I had the opportunity to travel to Italy to find the proper site. From a distance I read about the hill town of Assisi with its pink stone fortresses and St Francis’s Basilica. The town rises like a vision from the flat fertile fields. There one finds ancient manifestations of the military, agricultural, mercantile, and spiritual activities upon which the respective suits of swords, wands, pentacles and cups were based. I was thrilled as I climbed up the narrow streets and rounded the bend to see the fortress which matched my sketch for the cover image. It was a dream realized.”




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Documenting family has been a consistent activity throughout Nettles'work.

Grace's Daughter
By Bea Nettles
1994. Edition of 1000, unnumbered.

7.75 x 8"; 48 pages. Softbound, laminated.

This book presents a collection of family stories: "The Passage of the Ruby Ring," “Indian Oaks,” “Growing My Hair Long," “My Own Backyard,” "Travels from Home," "Goiter,” and "A New Home." It was produced entirely on the computer from snapshots and manipulated photographs and printed in mauve and black inks on acid free paper.

From the Introduction: “Recently my father shipped me the rest of the family negatives. It is a fine collection, dating back to his parents’ courtship in late nineteenth century Florida. Looking through them reinforced a strong interest that I have in family stories and heredity. Memory and autobiography have always played a role in my art work but the intensity of my backward gaze is stronger than ever. I suppose this has been brought on by the advancing age of my parents and my own realization that I have passed my life’s midway point...”

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Flamingo in the Dark
By Bea Nettles
1979. Edition of 2000, unnumbered.

11 x 11" square; 72 pages. Full color plates. Hardbound with an illustrated jacket.

Inky Press: "A visual autobiography containing over sixty five bichromate images created in multi layered color, predating digitally manipulated photographs by years. All images were produced from 1976 - 1979 using a Kwik Print on vinyl. This process involves coating light sensitive color onto a vinyl base, contact printing large negatives with a bright light source and washing away the unexposed color with water. The images were built up with multiple negatives and many exposures.”

Bea Nettles, from the Introduction: “This book is my visual autobiography, starting with my girlhood in Florida and starting over again with my daughter Rachel’s first year. The work is loosely sequenced and includes portraits of myself and family and landscapes pieced together from memories.”

Shelley Rice, Art in America (June 1978): “These images float freely across the picture, defying gravity and ignoring normal space and scale with Surrealist-influenced irrationality. Figures loom large over landscapes and turn into angels; the moon beams at the earth with a smiling face and then becomes a dish or a clock. Folds of patterned cloth sprawl into mountains capes while translucent fish swim through rainbows in the night sky. The artist’s visions come alive against backdrops of purples, greens, blues, mauve pinks, amber, browns....Emotionally charged and deeply subjective, Nettles’ colors are equivalents for a reality perceivable only by the inner eye.”




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Another area of explorations has been in the themes of women's issues - a woman's strength and ways of knowing about the world.

28 Days:
A Deck of Cards

By Bea Nettles
(1991) 2000. Second edition. Edition of 1000, unnumbered.

3.5 x 4.5"; 28 cards. Boxed. Duotones. This is the second edition of 28 Days, originally published in 1991.

Bea Nettles: "These 28 cards represent some of the emotions and physical sensations of the menstrual cycle. Medical text is intermixed with the artist’s personal statements about her cycle. They are a blend of mystery, honesty, and humor, presented with the hope that they can open discussion on this universal, but practically invisible female experience. The ideal presentation is to lay them out in a circle on a round table. In this way the transition from Day 28 to Day 1 of the following cycle is continuous, as it is in real life...a familiar spiral that continues for women for perhaps 40 years."

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By Bea Nettles
1992. Edition of 2000, unnumbered.

10 x 10" square; 48 pages. Softbound. Duotones.

To untangle and examine the complex ties that bind many mothers, Nettles blends her experiences of childhood, education, pregnancy, childbirth, housework, and professional life. In this book's layered images and text she demonstrated how she uses intrusions, improvisation, and balancing as the basis for her art, and art that is tightly woven with her life.

From the Introduction: “All mothers are ‘working mothers.’ I belong to the majority of American women who also happen to work outside of their homes. For twenty-two years I have been an artist and college professor. What I do involves balancing priorities and making compromises. I function despite frequent interruptions, piecing things together in patches of time. My roles as artist, teacher, and mother can at times enhance each other, at times compete.”

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Life's Lessons:
a mother's journal

By Bea Nettles
1990. Edition of 2000, unnumbered.

8.5 x 11"; 68 pages. Duotones. Softbound.
Photos and text examine contemporary mother/child relationships and issues of separation, gender, aggression, materialism, and hope for the future. Introduction by Sandra Matthews with preface by Terry Suhre.

Claire Wolf Krantz, New Art Examiner, April 1992: “...most moving as psychological document. Nettles wishes to be clear about her intent; thus her photographs are far more documentary than her earlier work and her texts are presented clearly and unambiguously. Yet, her own fears about the world surface as they are projected onto her childrens’ lives and images, and her disapproval of aspects of her environment becomes the source of tension in her pictures. Thus, her art expands beyond the documentary into an expressive photographic journey, as she struggles to live and to make art out of that life.”


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A recurring theme in Nettles' work concerns age and self.  

Turning 50
By Bea Nettles
Illinois: Prairie Book Arts Center, 1995. Edition of 200.

4 x 8"; 64 pages. Duotones, softbound on acid free stock.

Muted but moving collection of 60+ photographs and musing observations by Bea Nettles addressing the female body, aging, journeys, strength, loss and gain. Out of print for several years, the original press sheets have been bound in a new cover commemorating the tenth anniversary of this book's publication.


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Inky Press Productions Out of Print and SOLD titles:  

Swamp Lady
By Bea Nettles
Inky Press Productions, 1974. Edition of 150.

3.25 x 4.25"; 29 cards. Experimental four color printing done on a small offset press by Bea Nettles. This work first appeared in Colors: An Offset Portfolio, published by Florida State University. Deck is encased in a white box with Swamp Lady label and consists of pairs of images including Gator, Palm, Dive, Snorkle, and Beach. Cards are varnished on both sides and corners are rounded.

Bea Nettles: "A variation on the card game Old Maid. Dealer shuffles and deals the cards. Players look at their cards and put any pairs face up on the table. The dealer starts the play by offering his hand, face down to the player on his left, who picks any card. If this makes a pair, put it down face up. That player then offers his hand to the next. The player left with the SL card is the SWAMP LADY!"
(Out of Print)


Page last update: 08.23.2022


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