Forest Textures x Bonnie Steele
My sister, Bonnie, and I are deeply impacted by being in nature and these explorations reinvigorate our life-long passions for visual and textile arts. We had never thought to combine our art practices until 2019, when we began a new collaborative project entitled Forest Textures. It unites our respective skill sets, using my oil paintings of mycology, tree bark, the forest floor, and other natural subjects as the base for Bonnie's detailed needlework. My depiction provides structure as Bonnie deftly adds delicate details to lichen, moss, and mushrooms. These paintings express our connection to New Brunswick places and appreciation for their intrinsic value.
Beyond expressing our love of nature, this project is meaningful to us because we have created something greater than the sum of our parts. Being a trained special educator, Bonnie has studied the importance of sensory and tactile experiences. We love that embroidery can add the sensory experience of touch to a painting that would typically have only been experienced by sight. We also appreciate this project’s merger of two very different mediums. Oil painting is a well-accepted fine art medium, while embroidery is an oft-undervalued medium, traditionally deemed ‘women’s work’. With Forest Textures, we challenge these notions. Our mediums coexist on the canvas - complementary, equal partners.