Bonnie Heller

Bonnie Heller

My first memory of “making art” was when, as a child of 5 or 6, I would create small paper objects, place them in a brown paper bag and insist that all visitors to our home put their hand in the bag and take, with my compliments, one of those objects. I knew then instinctively as a child what I know now as an adult—that quite simply, art is a gift.  It is a gift for the artist who is able to struggle with the very basic questions of life and share visually, those explorations and it is a gift to the viewer, who gets to see through another’s eyes and experience, a reflected or challenging image of their worldview.

My work revolves around the constant struggle to understand how it is we survive. The growth and re-growth of the plants, the organic nature of the fruits of the earth in the still lifes, the spurting of life from mangy brown bulbs in ordinary clay pots, the hopeful, but mysterious windows which often emerge in my work are all obvious symbols of that struggle.  The cakes, which arrived unbidden in the still lifes and began to take on a life of their own, call to mind the celebrations and time markings in all people’s lives—birthdays, anniversaries weddings, confirmation, gatherings after funerals, holidays, every days.  Whether fabulously frosted and tantalizing lush or plain, sturdy and steadfast, these cakes take us through life’s rituals.  Since cake is rarely eaten alone, the community that shares it is a vital piece of that cycle.

The cakes join the plant and vegetable life that is going through its own cycle and are sometimes painted on anthropomorphic surfaces.  Lately, figures have demanded their place and are insisting on their rights to return to the canvas as well.  I still know, all these years later, that it is a gift to be able to allow these images to burst forward.


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