Kate Bonner's photo-based works are anchored in digital processes in dialog with drawing, painting, sculpture, and collage. Part photo, part object, the work is generated through a process of making and breaking apart. She folds or cuts found photographs and paintings, then scans them to produce new image information, then manipulated with editing software and analog tools. On layered, interrupted, and shaped surfaces, the digital gesture and the material gesture conspire and compete. With a passive interest, the camera observes liminal spaces in transit, architectural details, and objects mistaken for symbols or signs. Bonner’s basic philosophy of photography is one of resistance—a certain level of anarchy toward prescribed patterns, set movement, and defined structures. This offers opportunities to expand and broaden the space in which one experiences phenomenal appearances and thoughts. Bonner acknowledges the human desire to investigate, to know, to mentally construct, while simultaneously confounding the results.
Kate Bonner received her MFA from California College of the Arts in 2012. She was born in Saginaw, MI and lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. In 2013, Bonner was included in NextNewCA, a survey of selected MFA graduates at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art and has since been included in Second Sight: New Representations in Photography at the Torrance Art Museum, as well as exhibitions at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles; The Hole, New York; The Pit, Los Angeles; Et al Projects, San Francisco; Katherine Clark, San Francisco; LVL3, Chicago; Drake Hotel, Toronto; NADA Miami and New York; and Paris Photo Los Angeles, among others.
In the exhibition’s accompanying text the artist writes, “These paintings fold in on themselves to protect, they fold back on themselves as they attempt to reconstruct. These paintings guard their own inner reality.” To Bonner, cutouts “betray an inner confusion and chaos,” while layered images “depict second guesses.” Fittingly, the star-shaped folds conjure memories of paper fortune tellers that succinctly relayed our destinies in times when the future felt less tenuous. Shifting stories (v1-v3)deflect any sense of a neatly ordered reality. They indulge entropic anxieties.
When did you start incorporating printed imagery/print techniques into your work? About seven years ago my practice was driven by drawing and painting, but I became more conceptually interested in the off-handed quick cell phone pictures that I took as progress shots, than in the actual drawings or paintings. The camera added an extra layer of remove and movement and calculation that felt right.
Why did you decide to integrate 3D space into your photography? It might be the other way around—that I was interested in integrating photography into 3D space. Even when I work with flat planes mounted on a wall, I’m thinking about space. I’m thinking about the allegory of space, the language of including and excluding, of interior space and exterior space. And I just happen to be using photographs as a material to break into that space, to layer, to cut into it, to fold it, to splice it, to create multiple spaces in one flat area.
Using a combination of sculpture, photography, and painting, Kate Bonner speaks to our current state of confusion about what, exactly, photographs are and where they live (in the "cloud," on paper, or in memory, to name a few possibilities). Made with the help of CNC routers and scanners, her works manipulate images in ways obvious and not and force them to interact with colorful frames and supports. Bonner, who is based in Oakland, has an upcoming show at Luis De Jesus in Los Angleles.
The vast majority of the art we see — in Jackson Hole and pretty much everywhere else — comes in neat, tidy packages: a surface, covered with paint, contained by a frame, displayed on an otherwise blank span of wall. Artist Kate Bonner, however, mutilates that neat package, exposing the guts of our traditional ideas about what a piece of art is and thus forcing us to confront and question those ideas.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I grew up in multiple cities in Texas and Michigan. I’ve lived in Japan, Chicago, Brooklyn, San Francisco and now Oakland. Maybe it is because I have lived in so many cities, or because I was very shy when I was young, that I am interested in location and structural divisions and how they shape perspective. Part photo, part sculpture, my work is an attempt to expand space and to bar entry. I use scissors, scanners, digital erasers and jigsaws to break apart images and deny story to the viewer.
If the images on display in the Torrance Art Museum’s latest photography exhibit cause people to gaze with curiosity or take a second look, that’s OK. The show is meant to challenge the definition of a photograph. “This exhibit shows how artists are using photography in new and different ways, how they’re redefining the medium and challenging the medium."
Kate Bonner lives and works in Oakland, CA creating sculptural works through both digital and manual processes that combine photography with physical structures. Chopped up glimpses of photographs are mounted, layered, and reassembled on solid surfaces, variously bent and reaching away from the wall, or simply leaning up against it; their unexpected forms exceed the typical photographic frame, in turn making the entire wall or room the frame.
SculptureNotebook is an online platform that features artists, events, books, and other cultural material pertinent to issues in contemporary sculpture. FEATURED ARTIST: Kate Bonner, Seen through the side, 2013. Digital print on MDF. 36 x 44 x 10 in.
At last weekend's Paris Photo LA, many works stood out to us for their ability to talk about photography in fresh, captivating ways. One such artist at the helm of sculptural photography pieces is Kate Bonner, who showed two of her works at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles booth this year. Bonner's works typically combine photography, sculpture, and installation for pieces that appear to come out of walls and corners. At the fair in particular, one seemed to be trying to leave the fair entirely, as it was positioned at an exit.
This strong group exhibition at Catherine Clark Gallery is rounded out by Kate Bonner, Lauren Marsden, Bruno Fazzolari, Josh Greene, Patricia Esquivias, and collaborators Gareth Spor and Piero Passacantando celebrates the contributions made by CCA graduates and staff and further strengthens Clark's ties to the neighborhood.
Using photography as a main component, the artists visit and revisit objects and images, manipulating them, cutting them and repositioning them until the originals are transformed into new iterations. The iteration becomes a documentation of the changes that take place between originals and the outcome. The final pieces are collages and configurations of process, landing in a space pushing the boundaries of three-dimensionality. Kate Bonner’s new work is a strong example of that push, disrupting the limitations of two-dimensional images.
Featuring works by Kate Bonner, Andrew Chapman, Anthony Discenza, Aaron Finnish, Chris Hood, and Cybele Lyle, the overall aesthetic of the installation is chromatically minimal, which helps to keep the room from feeling cluttered. In a continuation of the exhibition title, the works are all deliciously anti-cathartic. What we see is a biopsy from a larger narrative that the artists never full reveal. Instead the works confront the viewer with tension and aura, encouraging the consideration of the exhibition as a whole.