ABOUT BONNIE

I grew up in New York. As a child I would go to museums and observe art statues. I was drawn to sculptures. My thoughts were always “I wish I could do that.” Throughout my life, I have always done some form of art. It keeps me in “my happy place.” I was living in New Jersey when I took my first figurative clay sculpting class with a model at The Visual Art Center of New Jersey. When I’m sculpting, I’m feeling the clay and am totally focused. I lose my sense of time. I took a jewelry-making class at the same time I was taking my sculpting class.

 

There, I made a mask in precious metal clay. When fired, the clay becomes pure silver. I put the mask on my sculpture, and it gave my sculpture its own story. This opened my world to a lot of possibilities. It was also the beginning of my storytelling. 

During the time that I was taking these classes, I traveled to Europe. Seeing Michelangelo’s work, including his sculpture of David, his Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica and the Madonna of Bruges, influenced my style. I was truly in awe of the detail and the narrative of these sculptures.

I wanted to make my sculptures into bronzes, but it was expensive. The foundry told me that to make it less costly, I would have to redesign my pieces with less or no negative space. If I did that, the price would come down, but it would still be expensive. 

Doing that would mean changing my design and basically who I am and what I do as an artist. I could not compromise my style—I wanted to keep making sculptures for me. Now that I knew I could not reproduce my sculptures in bronze, I became a partner in a stone carving studio and began teaching figurative clay sculpting.

One day I had an epiphany. I decided to photograph my sculptures and digitally combine them with photographs I had taken of flowers and nature. Flowers are a symbol of femininity, and it made sense to incorporate both. Combining the female form with the lushness and beauty of nature seemed only natural.

All of my sculptures are meant to stir up the emotions of my audience. To the world we are perceived one way, but inside we may feel another way. Many of the figures in my sculptures have their eyes closed. Our eyes are windows to our soul. With our eyes closed, no one really knows what is stirring within us.

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bonnie@bonnniekamhi.com