Bonnie Peterson

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.

Glacier Survey, 40″ L x 46″ W
In September 2008, I backpacked to the Lyell Glacier with the annual survey group (Yosemite National Park, CA). Heat transfers on silk, of the Lyell Glacier from 1883 (map), and photos from 1903, 2003, and 2008 are stitched, and quotations by 19th and 20th century explorers who visited the glacier, John Muir (1912) and Israel Russell (1889), are embroidered. The Lyell Glacier topographic lines are embroidered on silk.

“The Lyell Glacier is about a mile wide and less than a mile long but presents, nevertheless all the essential characters of large river-like glaciers- morianes, earthbands, blue veins, crevasses, etc., while the streams that issue from it are, of course, turbid and rock-mud showing its grinding action on its bed. And it is all the more interesting since it is the highest an most enduring remnant of the great Tuolumne Glacier whose traces are still distinct fifty miles away and whose influence on the landscape was so profound.” John Muir, 1912, The Yosemite

Bonnie Peterson
Its Just Math, 46″ L x 54″ W
Mixed media, embroidery, heat transfers, and stitching on silk, velvet, and brocade.

Twenty artists, 5 scientists and several educators participated in a traveling exhibition, “Paradise Lost? Artists on Climate Change in the Northwoods,” funded by the Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment and the Wisconsin Arts Board. PDF of Exhibition Catalogue

Some of the math behind studies of air bubbles trapped in glacial ice cores, is embroidered in a graph depicting 400,000 years of Earth’s atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. The graph is surrounded by stitched map fragments, my photographs from winter cross country ski explorations in the Lake Superior region, and satellite images of the ozone hole over Antarctica. Climate Change modeling equations are embroidered around the outside of the photographs. A 1914 quotation from the intrepid Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton surrounds the reassembled map pieces. The final outside gold brocade binding is printed with text from many climate change studies and documents.

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