Artist Information for Bonnie J. Smith
My textile fiber artworks are about what I see and know. It is my aspiration in life to keep telling my stories and that of others. Two themes that I have explored in depth are the effects of the drought in California and the importance of family relationships. I have also created art works about social justice by exploring subjects such as the suffragette movement, the plight of women of color, a friend with AIDS, illegal immigration, racism and rape.
What I have seen as I view the terrain of California is the effect of the drought that is damaging this state. This became quite clear when I started taking a series of photos of the Alviso Salt Marshes located in the Bay Area of northern California. The before and after drought images jarred my sensibilities. Watching how the ongoing lack of water has affected this environment overwhelmed me. Creating a Drought Series of textile artworks allowed me to push this alarming message out into the world.
Another subject that has inspired me is family and all that entails. As my immediate family has gotten older, I have felt a strong desire to let members of my family know how much they mean to me. Many people in our society simply fly under the radar and they need to be celebrated. These artworks were by a series of photos and snapshots of my family.
Water,water Everywhere78" x 63"   Photo by Spring Mountain Gallery
Over the years I have driven many times past the San Luis Reservoir, located off of highway 152 and south of Los Banos, California on my way to visit southern parts of my state.
I have always been anxious to round the curve of highway 152 that opens up the vastness of the San Luis Reservoir. Over the years I have watched as the drought in our state kept up its pace of lowering the water levels of the reservoir causing me to wonder if I would ever see the grasses green around the Reservoir and the water lapping up the sides of the vast bowl it created.
When the drought ceased and the rains started we thought they would never stop. Highways, rivers, salt marches flooded and eventually home by the non stopping rain.
Yes, I was excited to visit the San Luis Reservoir to see how it was holding up under the torrential rain storms as the Reservoir had become an old friend in my travels. As I rounded the curve on highway 152 I first saw the spillway on the left side of the road full and “yes” the reservoir was on that day approximately eight five percent full. Fortunately, the rains were starting to lessen.
But what a glorious site to see so much water that I knew eventually was going to make its way through the Santa Clara Tunnel and Conduit, then move through the Coyote Pumping Station in the Santa Clara Valley, then finally make its way to my home.
The idea for my textile artwork “Water, Water, Everywhere” sprouted from being a witness to such an abundance of rain.
Alviso36" x 36"   Photo by Spring Mountian Gallery
Alviso salt marshes are my favorite place in Northern California to take pictures. This one particular I had arrived to take photographs and was stunned by what damage the drought had done to this area. Overwhelmed, I knew I had to create a new artwork about what I had viewed that day.
Before and After the Drought49" x 59"   Photo by Spring Mountian Gallery
Taking pictures for many years of the Alviso Salt Marshes in Northern California I was struck by how the drought had affected the area. Comparing the years of pictures side by side I had to show the world what the drought California is perpetually in and its affects on this area were.
Water Spout36" x 33"   Photo by Spring Mountian Gallery
Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink! Around the world we are constantly struggling with too little water and then we have too much depending on the weather patterns. This is the environment we live in as humans. We try to conserve but that has never been at the forefront of the argument. Actually, the argument is who shall conserve, the rich, the poor, industry, my neighbor or your neighbor. For me the answer is easy, everyone should take responsibility and all shall conserve creating enough for everyone.