Bonnie Peterson

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). The experience of living in Zaire motivated my interest in human rights issues.

I embroider a great deal of text on each surface. For this I employ thick wool and rayon threads often in a large cursive style. I use my hands to guide the sewing machine needle through many thicknesses of fabric. The words are from my own travel or personal journals and historic quotations. I transfer my photographs to silk then cut the silk images into small scraps and fasten them back together using large, irregular primitive stitches. I tell stories about what I see and experience in the back country, or stories about my family and social issues. I like to use velvet because of the softness and deep color saturation; brocade because of the complex thread design or weaving, and silk because of its reflectivity and color brightness.

Bonnie Peterson prints photos on fabric and embroiders text from journals and historical documents in stitched collages about wilderness adventures and cultural issues. She's been an Artist-In-Residence at Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Isle Royale, and Crater Lake National Parks, and received four grants from the Illinois Arts Council. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and has been widely exhibited.

© Bonnie Peterson