Bonnie Stipe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Petrified Forest Oil and Mixed Media on Panel 24" x 36" 2013

The Petrified Forest
Oil and Mixed Media on Panel
24″ x 36″

Briefly describe the work you do.

As an artist, I find myself continually interested in the notion of beauty. My work is concerned with societal visualizations of gender roles and whether our preconceived notions of beauty come from biological sources or are fashioned through ever changing cultural expectations. 
Many of my works question this very paradox. Are we influenced through advertising, or is it our innate human nature that forms the violent, sexual, and even humorous imagery that flood our media? Choosing imagery and materials based on color alone, I allow the imagery to be from a wide and varied cross-section of photographic and contemporary media. Materials come from a variety of sources: Teen Vogue, the New Yorker, Better Homes and Gardens, the Cosmopolitan, National Geographic, historical painting, and craft materials. The combination allows for landscapes and figures of unknown gender and physical characteristics to take shape, born out of chaos. Is this a constructed beast or is it built out of natural human desires?

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I am a native of the midwest, born and raised in Massillon, Ohio. Five years ago I came to the southwest for graduate school and fell in love with New Mexico. The landscape and culture are so different from where I spent most of my life. The boldness of the light found in the southwest has affected the aesthetic of my work. I feel attached to bold and bright colors, much like you will see in New Mexico on a hot, cloudless day. 

The Galaxy Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas 18" x 24" 2013

The Galaxy
Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas
18″ x 24″

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

Most of my work is made in a traditional studio setting. The pieces that I make are very time consuming. I use traditional processes, including oil painting, that require long dry times and layering of materials. That being said, most of my work begins outside of my studio. Photography is integral in my creative process. Much of the inspiration for my current pieces comes from nature. I spend a lot of time hiking, and taking images of the landscape. 

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I see myself as an inventor and sometimes scientist. Experimentation plays a big role in my practice. When I first started making art, I just wanted to know the ‘right’ way to do things. I didn’t understand that the most exciting part of art was inventing my own way to create things. A scientist, in the broadest sense, is one who engages in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. I feel a true artist is one who creates a practice through which knowledge is the ideal goal.

You Eat What You Are Oil and Mixed Media on Panel 24"x 18" 2013

You Eat What You Are
Oil and Mixed Media on Panel
24″x 18″

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can? 

I try to keep myself on a set schedule. I think one of the hardest things about being an artist is not losing the momentum that you have when you are creating. When I get out of the practice of making art, it can sometimes be difficult to get started again- sort of like exercise. I feel better when I am creating.

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

Over the past five years, I have experimented with a lot of different materials. I have always had an interest in mixed media, and in the past year I have learned to embrace it. Conceptually, my work has also taken a turn in the last year. As a young artist and woman, I was interested in depictions of the body, and how our culture defined femininity and beauty. In recent years, my interest has shifted. I am still interested in definitions of beauty, but I am thinking about it in a broader sense. I am exploring the complicated relationship we have with beauty, both in nature and in the figure. 

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

A writer who has continually influenced my work is Ariel Levy. Her work, exploring sexuality in American culture and its effect on the identity of young women, inspired much of my early paintings. Her insights on modern feminism and the exploitation of the female body are what made me explore the definition of femininity in my work.
My family has always been my biggest supporters as an artist. They have always believed in my abilities and talents. Without them I may not have had the strength to follow my dreams. In addition, I have been blessed with a amazing circle of friends from whom I am continually inspired.

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

I do have an occupation outside of being an artist, and it is that of an educator. I feel that education and creativity go hand in hand. I am continually inspired by my students and their work. I teach at a local community college, and my students are a variety of ages with an array of backgrounds and experiences. Often I find myself discussing an issue with a student and from that my work is directly influenced.  


IMG_1584Bonnie Stipe is a native of the Midwest. Born in Massillon, Ohio she attended the University of Akron’s Myers School of Art, graduating with a BFA in painting and drawing, and a BA in art education. Following her studies, she then travelled to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she received her MFA in Studio Arts from the University of New Mexico. 
Bonnie has exhibited in galleries through the Midwest and Southwest, as well as working on projects abroad. Bonnie has traveled to Pylos, Greece to work as an illustrator for the King Nestor’s Palace Archeological Project; Kastorlee Belgium, to collaborate with students from St. Luke’s University, Brussels, for the Fran Masereel Printmaking Residency; and Venice, Italy, as a delegate to the Venice Biennale for the Myers School of Art. 
Bonnie currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she is a faculty member at Central New Mexico Community College.

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

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3 Responses to Bonnie Stipe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

  1. Love your work! Beautiful, passionate, mysterious. I’m not usually drawn to such bright colors but really relate to them in your work.

  2. Sally Miner says:

    How nice to read of your success. Your passion is evident in your work. All the best to you.

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