Artist Profile

Bonny Fleming
Artist Profile

Tell us a brief history of your journey into art.

I was born into the arts. My mother and her sister Markie (my aunt) started a traveling puppet theater in 1968 called Dragons are Too Seldom and they spent the seventies traveling the country doing puppet shows out of a Volkswagen® bus. Markie married Dick Termes and the whole gang really did an amazing job of nurturing my need to be creative as a child. My dad is a graphic designer, musician, and an incredible artist himself. He and his wife Susan have a graphic design company here in town called Hot Pink, Inc. He introduced me to the world of Adobe® Photoshop® in its infancy and it has been a part of my life since I was a teenager.

What drew you to your style of art?

I love sharing my experiences. Photography for me is just an excuse to get out and see what this amazing world has to show me. It doesn’t matter if it is an after-work drive or an all-day adventure, there’s always something incredible happening out there and I have the privilege of witnessing it. It’s a bonus that there’s this nifty little device that lets me capture those magic moments and bring them home to show everyone else. Sometimes people even love them enough to buy them from me and hang them on their wall.

Recently though, I’ve taken this all a step further and started exploring some of the connections I have been noticing from one event to another. My experience with graphic design and Photoshop® has given me the tools to combine the photos together to show similarities I am seeing in patterns all across nature. There’s this really cool way that a bunch of trees in a forest can look exactly the same as the fur on a buffalo’s back or the feathers down the tail of a raven. I’ve also noticed how much textures and shapes match from one thing to another. My new body of work called the “Synthesis Series” is my attempt at illustrating these connections.

What is your favorite subject matter to photograph and manifest into artwork?

I have always loved to shoot beautiful things. When I am out there shooting, I am always looking for the stuff that is a little extra special. And sometimes that is as simple as the way the light hits a blade of grass. Other times it’s total anomalies like massive thunderstorms or an aurora event. I’m constantly surprised at what strikes me as beautiful.

The new work has taken this all a little farther and given new life to some of these moments I have captured over time that would never make it “to the wall.” I’m constantly revisiting the past decades’ worth of photos looking for that one photo that’s just right – the photo that fits on the back of the buffalo in the most perfectly unexpected way.

How did you learn your photography/graphic design skills?

I have been shooting since I was 12 years old. My mom handed me her SLR camera on a trip to Yellowstone National Park and that was the beginning of my life-long passion for photography. I’ve had a camera with ever since. I’m alway trying to learn new things about my gear, push my limits, find new places, see old places a new way, I think like most things, you are always learning your skills. I’ve always said, if we get to the point where we know everything about what we do, we’d be done, and what’s the fun in that?

I started working for my mom at Asio Studio 15 years ago as a graphic designer. Much like with photography I have seen graphic design as just another form of creative expression. I learn something new every day when it comes to this profession. I am constantly striving to be better. With both photography and graphic design, the desire to be better is a discipline and something I have had to push myself to exceed at. The learning and growing are on me. That said, I have also had those incredible art mentors in my life who set down a pretty good foundation of understanding. They taught me the basics of good art and I use those tools every time I create anything.

Can you share a favorite piece you have done and explain why it is your favorite?

There’s a current recent piece in my Synthesis Series called “Leave Me Blue” (above). There’s just something classic about it. It’s a profile shot of a large bull buffalo. He’s got a waterfall that runs down his neck and another that runs down his face. They both seem to run off him and onto the ground below him and around a photo I took of Bear Butte. To me, this piece is everything the Synthesis Series is trying to say. The negative space between his marvelous buffalo beard, under his chin and around his neck perfectly mirrors the shape of Bear Butte. The giant waterfall, (which also happens to be a photo of Palisade Falls, in Montana) fits so perfectly on his neck it’s like it has always been there.

What tips or advice do you have for other aspiring artists?

Don’t spend too much time worrying about whether or not your work is “good” or “sellable.” First and foremost we should all make art because we love to, because we need to, because we want to. If you create something and you love it, and you’re proud of it, let that be enough. Then, after that, if someone wants to own it or buy it, that’s just the bonus.

Which artists have inspired you?

I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by the people who inspire me. My mom and dad, my aunt and uncle, my brothers and sisters and all the other “Dragons”. I had the privilege to grow up around amazing people who showed me it was okay to be whoever you are and do whatever it is your heart wants to do. They showed me that following your silly dreams are how you truly live life.

Where we can see your work:

Instagram: @bonzeye123

Display locations:

Bonzeye Studio
508 6th Street, downtown Rapid City
Matthews Opera House & Art Center
612 Main St. Spearfish, SD
Rehfelds Art and Framing
210 S Phillips Ave, Sioux Falls, SD

Black Hills Imaging Center

Rapid Chevy

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