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Bonnie MacAllister

Fiber Artist

The muscle memory of sewing is guided by recollections, stringing the grit and tooth of obstacles, the furrows of seams and seeming, of life stories fought out, patched out before paint would dry, better rather knit, pounded out in coarse intermingling of fibers, torn out and restitched, a forgiving medium where every loop can be redone and undone, tacked and basted anew.

My portraits on handmade felt are crafted through embroidery, created from that original figure drawing, transforming it into needlepoint, a quilt of pores, threaded with twenty or more colors, bounded and knotted with each physical perforation, a performative puncture onto the self-healing felt.

After learning to spin and weave as part of my Fulbright Hays to Ethiopia, I became determined to continue my story through textiles. Raw fiber is sourced by my travels as far as Visby in Gotland, the Arctic Circle on fiber residency in Iceland, and farms near megalithic sites in Bretagne.  My studio is filled with vats of organic dyes and experiments including turmeric, quebracho rojo, indigo, and Himalayan rhubarb.   I produce my own yarns and threads on a spinning wheel, and I create a palate from kitchen and garden items that can be used to produce color on fabric and other textiles. I embroider and felt portraits on these fabrics.