Bonny Hill – making Art that Matters art that matches
Contemporary art galleries and museums can be very intimidating for many people. Why is consuming art so difficult? Why do so many viewers feel uncomfortable at openings when they just don’t ‘get it’? Should an important show be accessible only to a narrow elite audience of those educated and immersed
in the art world?
I Don’t Know Anything About Art. I Just Want Something Nice to Hang Over My Sofa to Match My Living Room attempts to address some of these questions and to initiate a dialogue about what it means to be a consumer of art. The series also strives to give a broad audience what they are indeed looking for when they purchase art:
Art that matches their stuff and enhances their décor
Art that is affordable and/or is a good investment
Art that makes you think and/or makes you feel
The idea for this series of work came to me when my mother made the comment that I used as a title for this show: a comment I have heard countless times before and one that has left me wanting to accommodate her wishes. She simply wanted something to complement the furniture placement and colour choices she had made for her space. It occurred to me that so many look for the perfect art piece to enhance the choices they have made. Why not have the artist acknowledge the choices the decorator has made and to design the art piece to complement the work of the client? My initial idea was to simply paint portraits of people’s sofas to be hung over the sofas. The other work in this series that has evolved from this original path attempts to assist the art consumer/home decorator to choose works that can easily and successfully be incorporated into their home design plan. Most pieces have details printed on the back of the canvas describing Benjamin Moore paint colours by title and number and furniture details. Custom spin paintings can be ordered by paint colour as well.
I don’t make art with selling in mind: I want my work to be seen but am content with selling enough to allow me to continue to explore the next concept. Thus, it is a bit ironic that this series which is about making art accessible to consumers is priced to sell. In fact, pieces are listed as “buy one, get one free” and
“$30 for one…. 2 for $50”. Some of the sofa series pieces include a sofa in the price.
I have always worked full-time to support my art-making needs and I’m hopeful that selling pieces at approximately cost (transportation, materials , commissions, etc.) will make purchasing accessible. An ArtsNB grant has also contributed to the ability to keep purchase prices low. The value of this work should appreciate over time but some of the work has been created using inexpensive materials; indeed the Real Winners pieces have been painted over giclee prints purchased from big box stores and yard sales. Does the fact that the painter has a degree in art make them ‘real’ art? Other pieces, some intended to be hung out of doors, have been created using fabric and come with a matching pillow.
My intention is to start a dialogue about what it is to be a consumer of art. I want every viewer to understand most of the work on some level and I truly want every viewer to be amused: to smile, to interact with the work and to enjoy the experience of being in a fun, nonthreatening inclusive gallery environment.
You don’t have to know anything about art to know what you like…
Bonny Hill completed a Bachelor of Art in Art Education at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1984 and has been teaching art in public schools in the area for 29 years. In 2011, she was recognized by the Canadian Society for Education Through the Arts with the Canadian Art Educator of the Year Award. Her recent Great Big Water Bottle Project won first place in the first annual national 21st Century Youth Creativity Challenge sponsored by ArtsSmarts and Heritage Canada.
In addition to teaching art, Bonny is a practicing artist who has held solo exhibits recently at the Saint John Arts Centre, Gallerie Capitol Gallery in Moncton, Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre in St. Andrews, and SEEDS Gallery in Halifax. Bonny is poised, as she nears retirement from teaching, to begin a more full-time commitment to serious art-making and exhibiting. Her current series of painting installations, I Don’t Know Anything About Art. I Just Want Something Nice to Hang Over My Sofa to Match My Living Room, explores art consumerism and was made possible through an ArtsNB creation grant.