Bonnie Ralston is a visual artist who works in clay and on paper. Her art is process-driven, and serves as the record of her inquiry into personal themes of identity, loss, and transformation.
Formal careers in design and environmental education inform Bonnie’s artistic approach and subject matter. The natural sciences provide inspiration and departure points for her work through exploration of topics as varied as invertebrate metamorphosis and geologic time. The artifacts that emerge from this process function as accomplice, witness, and response to Bonnie’s interrogation of self.
She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
I take aesthetic cues from my surroundings, and spend much of my time studying sidewalks, buildings, roadways, and walls. I’m inspired by moments that reveal the built environment softening and giving way to time, wear, and to the natural processes that govern us all. I prioritize exploration of concept and experimentation with material over the creation of a finished work of art. What drives me to keep creating is the possibility of discovery—what happens after an idea/approach is pushed to the point of breaking. Often, the underlying meaning of the work becomes clear after it has been realized in physical form.
My ceramic work begins as simple stoneware slabs that are manipulated by hand. I leave the awkward joins, cracks, and scarring intentionally untouched—artifacts of the construction process and of the compromises made between artist and material. The introduction of transitional metal oxides into the clay while still plastic, and again prior to final glaze firing, imbues the finished work with surfaces reminiscent of stone and of earth.
On paper, I investigate the mark-making possibilities of the found metal originally intended for incorporation into my three-dimensional work, experimenting with common household salts and solutions as both corrosives and catalysts. While the medium is different, the approach to creating art is the same—one of experimentation and partnership with materials.