Friday, April 23, 2010

Small Works Exhibition

Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti, MI is hosting a juried small works exhibition for September 2-25, 2010. For more information go to the Riverside Art Center web site:
A printable prospectus is here:
* the postmark entry deadline is July 3, 2010.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Artist Profile for April

Our Michigan SAQA profile this month is:
Bonnie Peterson
Houghton, Michigan
How long have you been sewing and when did you begin making art quilts?
Like many women my age (54), I've had a variety of jobs while raising kids. I took sewing class in ‘junior high' and made all my clothes in 8th grade, but didn't pick it up again for many years. I had a career in marketing, did taxes, got an MBA at night school, and was a landlord. Most of my life I've lived in the Chicago area. About 25 years ago I was living in Tallahassee, FL. Winter was coming on, and I wanted to make a double Irish chain quilt similar to one my sister had made. I bought 4 blue & cream prints at The Quilt Shop but after a few hours I tired of strip piecing and returned to the Quilt Shop for different fabrics. I started making a Chicago skyline wall hanging. The women at the Quilt Guild of Tallahassee admired my efforts and this encouraged me to proceed with more small wall hangings. A few years later, a close friend died of breast cancer and the Yes Mam! Mammogram Challenge inspired me to use bras in Talk to Me. When it was displayed at a show, I stood quietly and watched people laugh upon first seeing the bras from afar. As they got closer and realized the subject was breast cancer, they often began to talk to each other about breast cancer. Its hard to believe now, but in the early 1990's the subject was taboo. My friend was isolated by people's fear of saying the ‘wrong' thing, and I wanted people to talk and bring the subject out into the open. In 1995 I received an Illinois Arts Council (IAC) Fellowship and 3 subsequent IAC Fellowships and Finalist Awards encouraged me to keep making political and environmental work and to try to get my work ‘out there.' My work was accepted more readily by art shows than quilt venues and I went in the direction of art exhibitions. I like to use the term: ‘mixed media textile' because I find people often do not get beyond traditional thinking when they hear the term 'quilt'.
Describe your art and its inspiration.
I enjoy backpacking and skiing and am interested in cultural issues. California's sierra mountains are my favorite and last year I backpacked the John Muir Trail solo in 16 days from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney. For many years a major portion of my work has been about Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. Probably the best entry to my work and inspiration is a short 5 minute WTTW-Chicago Public Television segment filmed last year.
This is my basic artist statement: My textiles and paper maps chronicle my adventures in the wilderness and through life. I developed an early passion for the outdoors while backpacking at summer camp and sailing with my Dad on Lake Michigan. A pivotal change in my family's life occurred in 1971 when my father was hired to set up an anesthesia program at the university in Zaire (Congo). We moved to Zaire and that experience motivates my interest in human rights issues. I embroider text from wilderness journals and historic research using thick wool and rayon threads. I transfer photographs to silk then cut them into small scraps to fasten back together with large, irregular primitive stitches. I like to use velvet for its softness and deep color saturation; brocade for the complex thread design, and silk because of its reflectivity and color brightness. I want the work to resemble early 20th century Victorian crazy quilts, or old tapestries I've seen in dark museum hallways. From far away, the viewer is drawn in by the texture, richness and color; by the fantasy of touching the work. Closer up, the viewer deciphers a message, sometimes poignant, and sometimes just another adventure story.
Where do you do most of your artwork?
I recently moved from Elmhurst, IL (Chicago suburb) 420 mi north to Houghton, MI, near Lake Superior. I built a studio overlooking a major ski trail system. It's in town, but skiing, walking, running and mountain biking are just out the back door in the forest! This is usually the first thing I do in the morning.
What are your goals?
I am interested in social issues, the environment and history. These are huge topics and will keep me busy for a long time.
Do you teach, lecture, curate or have a business of your artwork?
A couple of years ago I was part of a rewarding artist-scientist art exhibition project about climate change in Wisconsin's northwoods. I am interested in numbers, graphs, statistics and demographics and the project resulted in some interesting work with climate data. I also made a globe. There were 20 artists and 5 scientists at the initial weekend workshop. The interaction was stimulating! I enjoy being in a community of artists and have found communities in Houghton as well as Chicago and even California. I spend a lot of time marketing my work, sending out proposals and working on my website. The art market is diverse and the business aspects are important. I've lectured at many Chicago area venues including a very interesting format: Pecha Kucha, and a small segment of that is in the WTTW-TV video.
Where can your work be seen?
My website lists current shows in red on the resume page. Some current shows include:
International Jewelry Quilt Project, Bihorel, France

St Michel l'Observatoire, Provence Luberon, Invitational May 13-24
Fresnoy-Le-Grand Textile Museum October 4 - March 4, 2011

International Juried Show, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ through March 19

Firelands Association for the Visual Arts, Oberlin, OH. May 16 - July31

Rockford Midwestern Exhibition, Rockford Art Museum, IL. through
April 18
What are your interests outside of art?
Art is integral to my life. I enjoy seeing all types of art. Of course I love being with my children and was able to combine that with museums in NY and DC in January. This year has been a transition to a different lifestyle with a new routine. I ski instead of running or walking, and have restructured my time. Being outdoors and making art are my focus.
Bonnie Peterson
To see more of Bonnie's work go to her web site @
'It's Just Math'
Mixed media, embroidery, heat transfers, and stitching on silk, velvet, and brocade.
46" L x 54" W
Crater Lake Quadrangles
Heat transfers and silk transfers of maps, trail descriptions, historical stamps, stories from an artist residency, pen and stitching on topographic maps of Crater Lake National Park
27"(L) x 38"(W)