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About Bonnie Lambert
Bonnie Lambert grew up on the South Side of Billings, never took an art class after junior high school (until college), but was an avid reader. She earned a degree in English literature and developed an obsession with photography. She took the Greyhound Bus from Billings to the Center of the Eye in Aspen, Colorado- a leading edge photo workshop/gallery- to learn the technical side of photography, and more importantly, the art of photography.
After 18 months in Aspen, Lambert moved to Rochester, NY, to attend the Visual Studies Workshop. She earned an MFA in photography from the University of Colorado, Boulder. During her last six months at CU, Bonnie discovered the world of constructed or staged photos, and realized that this visual “storytelling” was her photo path. After a hiatus of nearly 30 years, Lambert started constructing photos again in 2014. She has exhibited her work (most recently) at Turman Larison Contemporary, the Holter Museum of Art and 1+1=1 Gallery.
I construct photographic narratives, sometimes somewhat autobiographical, often stories I would like to “read.” I invite the viewer to make their own narrative.
I found my photographic “subject” near the end of my second year in the graduate program in fine art photography. One of my jobs was to photograph photographs in books, to make slides for the art department slide library. I realized that I could arrange anything under that 35mm camera/lens; I could create or construct a photo. I didn’t have to walk around and photograph the “real” world. I taped hair to my fingers, to my face, taped transparent seashells with transparent tape and photographed them on a light box, explored transparency and opaqueness, light, my sense of self. Later, I constructed a three- sided stage/room where I made tableaus, often using myself as the model, the subject. After that I worked on a much smaller scale, constructing “biographies” or “portraits” of women in my family, women friends, women I worked with, by affixing small objects and writing on 2’ x 2’ panel. In 1986 I moved back to Montana, and my photographic work ended as I raised a two-year old, started a small business, and gardened.
Then in 2014 the need to make art arose and I tentatively began again. I received positive feedback from people whose opinion I trusted, and I was off to explore the new-to-me world of digital, color, large scale visual stories.
I moved to more stories about me—about aging. But, often, it’s just easier for me to be the actor than it is to arrange for someone else. And I hope that viewers can put themselves into the picture and not see this as only a self-portrait.
I try to live by the maxims: be open to wonder; stay curious; embrace the not-young, the lowly, the quotidian.
About the paper shoes
I love all kinds of paper: tissue, handmade, candy wrappers, cardboard, Italian, Japanese, firecracker paper packaging, brown wrapping, bags, ticket stubs, envelopes, cupcake cups. I’ve made paper crowns for many years, and a couple of years ago I decided I wanted to try making paper shoes. I learned that shoes are really complicated, even if you have patterns. This was what I could produce—with lots of blood, sweat and tears—and burnt finger tips from using a hot glue gun. My goal was not to reproduce an exact replica of a shoe, but instead make it a story or a portrait or a statement. I am not a meticulous, patient, precise worker/maker. I embrace the messy and imprecise.
Bonnie Lambert is represented in Helena, Montana by 1+1=1 Gallery. Her artwork will be available for viewing during regular business hours at the gallery located at 434 N. Last Chance Gulch. Please call 406.431.9931 for more information about Bonnie’s work.