Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Dionne Bonner (Tacoma) received 2007 GAP Award funding to complete three paintings, restore twelve paintings, and frame all works in a series entitled African American Pioneers of the Pacific Northwest. These portraits will be featured as part of an installation depicting the contributions of African Americans within the region. Written biographies, live music, and interactive video presentations will be employed to highlight the lasting contributions of African American pioneers in the Pacific Northwest. The work will be shown at Barefoot Studios in January 2008. Dionne was featured in the Summer 2008 issue of Centrum's Experience magazine.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

I can best describe Centrum and Artist Trust’s residency by listing three phases: freedom of time; new directions; and special projects. Time is the best gift I received from the residency program. Because I work full-time, I split my residency into three one-week sessions. During a normal day I spend most of my time working as a graphic designer. A 24-hour period consists of splitting hours between my nine-year-old son, work, and other activities, which include artistic endeavors like freelance painting and design. Time to paint on a daily basis is extremely minimal; that’s why this residency’s gift has been most of all freedom of time. Each day during my residency I painted for at least six hours, an unheard of amount of time during my normal day. I didn’t tack painting onto the end of a long eight-hour shift after checking email and tucking my son into bed (this part I did miss). Instead I spent every moment focused on painting, writing, and project development.

A new direction in my painting surfaced during my residency. I was looking to grow and develop as an artist and didn’t really know what that looked like in the beginning. As the residency progressed a new vision for my artwork began to take shape. The subject matter in my work has always been very diverse, from a detailed illustration of railroad tracks using airbrush and colored pencil to an abstract painting of a women laying in a garden in acrylic. I like mixing things up and painting about the moments in my life. The scenic views and peaceful environment at Fort Worden State Park steered me in a new direction. Variety in an artist’s work sometimes indicates a lack of focus, and concentrating on one subject matter has been a challenge I’ve faced. Because I paint a lot of portraits and commissioned work I’ve never really focused on a specific theme except for my portrait series. I’ve always wanted to create a body of work that is more thematic. At Centrum I found subject matter in the environment, and began to develop a series of work that represents its unique essence. Inspired by trips to the beach and scores of photos taken during my residency I began paintings based on natural occurrences we see in everyday life. I’m excited to see how this new work develops.

Centrum and Artist Trust’s residency was a catalyst to inspiration, creative energy and the momentum I’ve needed. During my time there I accomplished a great amount of work and was able to start a special commissioned painting for a client. The creative concept for the painting came together during my first week at Centrum and the client was extremely pleased with the end result. There is something very special about this place. I’ve been inspired by the environment and the peaceful quiet moments spent reflecting on my life. My perspective on being an artist is not that I am creating paintings but I’m creating experiences—experiences between my clients, and the society I observe through painting. I’m hopeful that after this residency, even with a busy schedule, I’ll continue to spend valuable moments devoted to my craft. Determination, creative momentum and a new sense of direction will help me navigate the normalcy of life and the unyielding desire to create art.

Dionne Bonner