An exhibition of original photographs and ceramic work by Swarthmore-area photographer, ceramic artist and writer Bonnie-Ann Burnett will be on display from July 1 through August 2, 2015 at Swarthmore Borough Hall, 121 Park Avenue, Swarthmore. The public is invited to the artist’s opening reception on Friday July 10 from 5 to 9 pm. Both the exhibit and the opening are free and open to the public.
The exhibit, entitled “Stone of Saint David’s,” presents photographs taken by Ms. Burnett of the rocks along the ancient Welsh coast during the days just after her father’s death. In describing the impetus for the works forming the show, she says, “this daughter’s shattered heart found solace among the shattered rock of the Pembrokeshire coast, their incredible variety and vibrant colors. This current exhibit, Stone of St. Davids, is my love song to these stones, and my thank you to my father,” a father whom she credits with teaching her to look carefully and to listen for the stories within the stones. A large format, hardcover book edition of this exhibit, suitable for display, will be available for sale at the opening, and later by request. Also included in the exhibit will be some of her organically shaped, hand-formed clay vessels, made from locally dug clay.
This is Ms. Burnett’s first solo exhibit of her photography, though her images of Michigan woodlands, western prairie and Alaska wilderness have been included in National Park calendars, various journals, and environmental education exhibits across the country. She describes her work as spontaneous, and shaped by decades of “looking closely at what most others overlook”.
In describing her lifelong affinity for stones, she says: “Long ago I learned that stones hold stories. They hold arguably the most important stories of this planet. Their layers speak of hundreds of thousand of years of settling sediments, their crystals speak of the slow cooling from liquid to solid. Their cracks speak of unfathomable pressure. Their upendedness tells stories of violent upheaval. Each stone has a life history that shows through its weathering, its cracking and crumbling, its crevices that invite new life to take root. What we see today is but a moment in…its long, slow life…These stone stories engage my heart….especially the truth of how hard [life] can be, and what beauty can come from breaking.”
Now a Delaware County resident, she describes herself as having been raised as a child in Michigan, “on the edge of disappearing farmland”. She “ran away from her corporate career as a scientist to follow [her] childhood dream of being a National Park Ranger,” spent time among the prairies and rocks of The Black Hills, and later moved to Alaska, to live on the edge of the wilderness, “hiking among bear and wolf, living among the stones, and working at Denali National Park.” After relocating to Pennsylvania in 1999 she began a fine gardening company, Earthdance Garden Care, which has been tending gardens along the Main Line and in Delaware County for the past 11 years. Her most recent metamorphosis is as a ceramic artist, photographer and writer. Examples of her work can be found on her website bonnieannburnett.com.