Bonnie Peterson


Artist Statement

I use embroidery to investigate cultural and environmental issues. Mixing a variety of source materials such as scientific data and explorer’s journals, I stitch words and numerical graphs on silk and velvet fabrics to make narrative wall hangings and a series of annotated topographic maps.

My recent projects examine geophysical climate issues and are inspired by collaborations with scientists. I seek straightforward explanations for the important principles in environmental science and attempt to convey simple and complex layers of meaning. The foundation for each project begins with developing an understanding of published research and climate data generated by satellite instruments and other exploratory data collection tools. Conversations with scientists help me interpret key concepts and clarify their context and relevance. My work provides a novel opportunity for the consideration of current events and ethical questions.

My interest in climate is motivated by backpacking trips in California’s Sierra mountain range. Lengthy walks and primitive exploration integrate the impacts of contemporary society and historical context.


Bonnie Peterson is a visual artist investigating environmental and social issues using embroidery. Peterson’s personal and political subjects have followed the trajectory of her life experiences from family and human rights issues to outdoor adventures and environmental science. Recently, collaborations with scientists on concepts in fire ecology, atmospheric science, permafrost and other geosciences motivate her work. Peterson had four National Park artist residencies. She has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions in the US and abroad including the Museum of American Folk Art , Museum of Design Atlanta, Fresno Art Museum, Yosemite Museum, Notebaert Museum Chicago, Berlin Science Week, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, and Art/NaturSci Pavilion Venice. Peterson received four individual artist grants from the Illinois Arts Council, a grant from the Illinois Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and other honors. Her work is in public and private collections including the Museum of Art & Design NYC. She has a BS from the University of Illinois at Urbana and an MBA from DePaul University. Originally from the Chicago area, Peterson recently relocated to Houghton, Michigan where she has a studio.
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