Bonnie Peterson


Artist Statement

I use embroidery to investigate cultural and environmental issues. Mixing a variety of source materials such as scientific data and early explorer’s journals, I stitch words and numerical graphs on silk and velvet fabrics to make large narrative wall hangings and a series of decorated topographic maps. My recent projects examine geophysical climate issues. Instigated by a series of collaborations with scientists, I began to look for simple explanations for some of the important principles in climate and environmental science to use in my work. The foundation for each project comes from developing an understanding of recent published scientific research and climate data from satellites and other exploratory tools. Interactions with scientists are invaluable for interpreting and extracting key concepts and clarifying their context and relevance. The scientists often contribute research data and provoke new ideas for artwork long after the initial collaboration.

Lengthy backpacking trips in California’s Sierra mountain wilderness have motivated my interest in climate science. These trips are significant to integrating the impacts of contemporary society and historical context into my artistic process. Using Victorian crazy quilts as a point of departure, my artwork provides a novel opportunity for the consideration of current events and ethical questions.


Bonnie Peterson is a textile artist investigating environmental and social issues. Recently she worked with scientists studying fire ecology, atmospheric science and lake chemistry to make artwork about climate science. She was an artist-in-residence at Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Isle Royale, and Crater Lake National Parks. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and in many private collections. Peterson has an extensive exhibition and grant funding record including 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 awards. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois-Urbana and an MBA from DePaul University. Originally from the Chicago area, she recently relocated to Houghton, Michigan and has a studio there.
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