Some evenings are for learning, some evenings are for socializing and some others are for walking in the imagination of an artist to feed my mind. I met Bonnie Smith, fabric artist, through a friend and soon got interested in her fabric creations. Artists hardly do something for no reason at all, or for the pleasure of doing it. The roots of an art creations often hide other motifs than what a viewer might be interpreting.
I walked in a stark white, minimalist room at the gallery Olive Hyde Art Guild in Fremont, Ca and found a strange entanglement of blue strings. Curious and not knowing what all the blue indigo ropes hanging on the walls and sitting on the floor meant, I was compelled to ask for my learning. Modern art is hard to understand without the guide of the artist and without knowing the thoughts, the pain, or joy behind it. This art installation has a touchy personal story, something the artist shared with me in a short interview.
Bonnie: “I was raised in a small town of about 300 people in the East of US. My parents bought a beautiful property and moved there, but we had no idea we were one of the select religious group, I can freely say we are Methodist. As time passed we realized the local people would not let us buy their produce, strawberries, eggs, things they had in front of their house for sale and when we showed up to buy, they would say: “may be another day”, or “eat your dinner over there”….. It went on for a long time and didn’t get any better. Then, I remember we became members of the church and when I was baptized in that church life became easier. One day someone tapped my mother on the shoulder to invite her to the house and allowed us to buy eggs. My parents lived there for 30 years before they left. It sounds very silly, but this is where all this (referring to her art installation) comes from without realizing I had been carrying this weight with me all my life and it has affected my mother a lot for so many years. When I created this art, I explained it to my parents, 84-85 years old this year, but they just didn’t want to talk about. They are still affected by those episodes.
One day, a friend came over while I was playing around with blue indigo, she said the material felt so good in her hands and something in me just clicked. For six months I did nothing but dyeing 60,000 strings and 400 feet of cotton rope in blue indigo. It became an obsession without even knowing where I was heading. Then my youngest daughter asked me what was wrong with me using all that blue, since I don’t even like blue and never wear it. I actually started crying at that point. I explained to her that the blue reminded me of those workers’ clothes, their overalls and the jackets they wore. This is my story of these pieces. My husband created the round disk to hang them up. By the time I finished working, I realized it represents the “Tangled Web Of Thoughts” and I thought the large rope on the floor is my mind understanding as an adult”.♢
I thought the chair with the straight, jagged lines together with the blue color is well representing that stiff society and the uneasy “blue time” Bonnie grew up in.
It’s fascinating how an episode of one’s young life can stay trapped in the soul for years without any consent and then one day explodes in a form of art, finally liberating that person of all the pains.
Exhibit dates are March 16 – April 26, 2014. Where will this indigo blue go from here and will be situated as the artist intended it? Ciao,
Copyright © 2014 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola is an Italian interior designer in business since 1990. She is passionate about colors and all expressive arts. She is a “colorist”. To her, selecting art means to bring out the best energy of her clients and nourish their soul. She is the author of her book on the subject of colors: ©Red-A Voyage Into Colors available on