exhibition review

What did you experience?

My work is created as an experience and I want nothing more than to hear how you felt as a result of being with, and in, my work. Fellow WONDER CHANNEL artist Amanda Bonaiuto graciously shares her experience below.


Where ever you go, there you are | Kate Gilbert
WONDER CHANNEL  | Fourth Wall Gallery
Amanda Bonaiuto

Standing at the entrance of a stout hallway, flanked by alizarin curtains. Unfinished exterior, industrial structure’s are exposed in juxtaposition with the warm light and faux wood grain finish of the interior leads one to question if this constricted space is for entering or for observation from the outside.  Curiosity takes hold as I enter the space, which seems to hold my body but no one else’s. The impulse to test the space for its authenticity is overwhelming. Grazing the faux walls, tempted to know what’s beneath it. In searching for the seams of the piece I notice the concrete floor of the gallery on which I stand. A stool of modernist design tempts one to take a seat: its simple curvature created just for the human shape, however I do not sit because the claustrophobia is already present. It’s offering comfort feels artificial. At the end of the hallway, I’m confronted with a plasma screen touring me through a simulated production of a modern interior waterfront home. Lulled into the rhythm of the smooth pans and pleasing colors, I’m shocked out of my complacency with a fast-paced slideshow of consumer products and advertisements.  An interior confusing in it’s creation of desire, or is it a constructed desire, leaves one not desiring the faux marketed room, nor the plasma television, but a desire for an authenticity in material and consumer culture. The illusion of the handmade attracts the human senses, distracting and complicating, using materials produced by factory machinery in order to create space that is uniquely yours.


A few hours in Chicago

Earlier this week I made a quick trip to Chicago to deliver a painting. While heavy snow built up on the ground, I shed layers of tension created during my first semester at SMFA and observed a bit about myself and my practice.

10 AM - breakfast with Olga, an “art buddy” from high school, and her son. We were the fun-loving, grounded, creative girls who crossed the boundaries of cliques but maybe didn’t know how hard it would be to be an artist in the real world. I was reminded that life is too short not to be honest, with ourselves, and with those we love. (And that a cocktail of OJ + cream + lemon makes mom nauseous and Nikko giggle.)

12 – a drive down Magnificent Miles to revist Seward Johnson’s “Forever Marilyn”. Like a car wreck, I can’t help looking at her every time I go to Chicago. My judgement: it’s still a terrible piece of public art and tourists will do anything for a photo. (But I still don’t understand why people want to pose under the vagina of a 26’ statue?!)

26' tall

12:30 – From XXL to XXS…a visit to the Thorne Miniature Rooms at Art Institute of Chicago. Take away: what you don’t see can be more intriguing than what you do see. (I’m hoping to incorporate the illusion of light from other room(s) in my next room/installation.) 

Scale: 1" to 1'
2 – Reflexology with Eric the Healing Samurai. We catch up like old friends and I think I’m not “getting” anything but a foot rub. Hours later I realize I have clarity in my thoughts and more compassion in my heart. Chakras opened? Reminder from our conversation: go for what you want; no is rarely the final answer.

4 PM – Restretching and installation of “I’m Not that Bold” at the home of new friends Katherine, Nick and their adorable two-year-old Chloe. I’m honored to have this particular painting, a transition piece for me, with them. My goal: to make my paintings look as spontaneous and carefree as a two year old's. (Chloe’s drawing is on the coffee table along with our mutual muse: Winnie the Poo! “If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”)

"I Like Your Nail Polish/ I'm Not that Bold", 2011. Oil on canvas. 58"x58"

What if Degas observed yoga studios?

Yesterday I spent some time at the MFA Boston’s “Degas and the Nude” exhibition. Confession: for all the concept-based work I’m doing about simulation, observation and surveillance, I’m still a sucker for a well-rendered nude.
In the dim light of the exhibition I observed beautiful line, vibrant color, bawdry images (lesbian sex...consider the era!), smoky scenes of voluptuous flesh made with the simple swipe of a rag through ink, and one heck of a complex relationship with women. 
But what resonated most deeply with me was the beauty in the awkward poses of Degas' bathers and dancers. Suddenly the big-assed woman getting out of the bath, balancing precariously on one foot had as much grace and purpose as his earlier Spartan figures. And I recognized a similar desire, as an artist, to show the moment of “coming into” or “getting out” of that I explored in my hair drawing/yoga series from 2003-2007.  Now I’m not comparing my work to Degas’…never would I dare...but I read in his work a shared yearning to express the dynamism of the human figure in the complex context of our modern world.  (His being, of course, much different than mine.)  
So I ask you this: what if Degas had access not only to the brothel, but also to a yoga studio? 
Two Degas bronzes ("Dancer Holding her Right Foor in Her Right Hand" and "Dancer Looking at the Sole of her Right Foot") at MFA's "Degas and the Nude"
"Remapping #1", 2007. Human hair on paper.