Bonnie Peterson

  • Drought, 38 h x 55 w, Embroidery on silk with details of California's "500 year drought"
  • Days of Lead (Pb), 50 x 50 Embroidery on silk and velvet chronicles significant events during the first 1,000 days of toxic Lead (Pb) in Flint, Michigan's water supply, and environmental details about Lead (Pb).
  • Ocean Heat, 38 h x 41 w, Embroidery on silk showing heat in the top 700 meters of the ocean
  • On the Nature of Fire, 65" H x 85" W Embroidery on silk, velvet. Fires of Change: the art of fire science is an artist/scientist project that explores how fire as an ecosystem process is impacted by climate change and societal development.
  • detail of On the Nature of Fire
  • Anthropocene, 23" H x 27" W, Embroidery on silk & velvet. CO2 in Earth's atmosphere.
  • Turning Green , 32" L x 52" W Embroidery on silk, velvet and brocade explans data about the melting of Greenland's glaciers.
  • Mono Lake, Brewer & the Public Trust, 43" H x 50" W Embroidery on silk of William Brewer's 1863 journal describing Mono Lake, the 1983 California Supreme Court decision, and prediversion, target and current lake levels.
  • Permafrost Distribution, 16 x 16 x 1 Embroidery on silk shows the location of arctic permafrost and describes some of its characteristics.
  • Hetch Hetchy 1893, 40 H x 54 W, Embroidery on silk. Map Case B in the Geology Library at the University of California Berkeley holds a unique pre-dam map of Hetch Hetchy Valley surveyed between 1893-1909 with a contour interval of 100 ft.
  • Sea Level Rise & CO2 Graph, 8x8x30, Embroidery on silk
  • Lake Superior Ice Cover, 16 x 16 x 1 Higher air temperatures are leading to increases in Lake Superior's surface water temperatures and to less ice formation on the lake. This embroidery details some of the physics and consequences to declining ice formation.
  • Phantom Ranch Quadrangle, 27" H x 22" W Collage on paper; transfers, silk, pen and stitching on a USGS, 7.5 minute topographic map.
  • Ice Phenology, 12" H x 28" W Embroidery on silk, and velvet
  • Accelerating Antarctica, 35" L x 41" W Embroidery on silk, velvet and brocade explains the melting Antarctic ice sheets using text and data.
  • Glacier Survey, 40" H x 46" W Embroidery and heat transfers of the Lyell Glacier in Yosemite National Park. Quotes by John Muir and Israel Russell
  • Kora (Pilgrimage), 68" H x 70" W Embroidery and transfers on velvet, silk and brocade.
  • Hetch Hetchy Valley, 40"H x 48"W Heat transfers of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir drainage maps, stitching, and photographs of the history of the dam, on satin, silk, sheers and velvet. The borders are embroidered with descriptions of Hetch Hetchy Valley by John Muir and Robert Price from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and facts about the O'Shaughnessy Dam
  • Muir Trail: Lakes, Peaks and Passes, 72" H x 84" W, (detail) Heat transfers of Sierra maps, painted and embroidered with trail notes from backpacking trip, photographs on satin, silk, brocade and velvet, stitched. The borders are embroidered with John Muir's descriptions of the high Sierra from the late 19th and early 20th century
  • War Graph, 58"H x 70"W Embroidery and heat transfers on velvet, brocade and silk. Graph of Iraq civilian and US military deaths by year, surrounded by names of war casualties and incidents
  • Convoy to Sheberghan, 50"H x 56"W Heat transfers and embroidery on satin, silk, velvet and brocade, stitched. A December 2001 massacre of POWs in Afghanistan reported by documentary film maker Jamie Doran in "Convoy of Death," and other journalists, is embroidered on the velvet and brocades
  • Escalante Quadrangle, 27 h x 22 w, Collage on paper; transfers, silk, pen and stitching on a USGS, 7.5 minute topographic map.
  • Wedding Party Massacre, 40"H x 60-83"W, Embroidery with hand and machine stitching on a satin wedding skirt with sheer fabric and netting. The skirt and inner netting was smashed under the machine's presser foot during the process, creating a flattened skirt. When viewed against a light source, the folds and multiple skirt layers are visible. The back is covered with sheer fabrics so the bobbin stitching is visible from the back. It is hand quilted. It can be installed against a wall or suspended from the ceiling in the middle of a room. The text is from a May 2004 incident in which 45-47 civilians were killed at a wedding party in western Iraq. (Text used with permission of The Guardian of London.)
  • Of Bogs & Benthos, 52" H x 72" W Lake chemistry explained with embroidery & transfers on satin, silk, velvet and brocade
  • Bright Angel Quad, 27 h x 22 w, Annotated topographic map

Artist Statement

The urgency of climate change motivates my artwork. I examine geophysical climate issues with the goal of promoting a fresh opportunity to consider climate and ethical questions. I stitch words and numerical graphs on silk and velvet fabrics to make narrative embroidered wall hangings and annotated topographic maps.

I design simple explanations for the important principles and difficult modeling scenarios in environmental science, and I use these in my work. Published scientific research and data collection are the foundations for each artwork. I examine and translate the abstract scientific data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), NOAA, NASA, & the European Environment Agency (EEA), to inspire thought for the future and challenge people with and without a scientific background to consider the math and science of climate change. Each work is unique in its approach to science and societal knowledge considerations. A lengthy research and development phase is the foundation for my work. I investigate published scientific research and data collected by earth instruments such as satellites and ocean floats, as well as modeling from climate proxy data such as ice cores.

My curiosity about our earth developed when I walked on Zermatt’s Gorner Glacier as a teenager. Over a lifetime of backpacking, I’ve learned to recognize glacier markings and other glacial remnants. My recent environmental work was initiated by artist-scientist projects. Some of the exciting and rewarding projects in which I’ve participated have been at the University of Wisconsin (Limnology, biology and climate change), National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Research (lake chemistry, invasive species, and societal practices), Yosemite National Park (glaciology), Northern Arizona University (Fire ecology at the intersection of extreme fires and societal change), University of Arizona (Dendrochronology) and the mass of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

My current work presents a web of connections among climate variables for a variety of future temperature and emission scenarios using Fahrenheit (1.8 deg) instead of Celsius (at 1 deg). I hope to communicate urgency for the current and future consequences to atmospheric, oceanic, polar and land variables and the dynamic nature of warming.


Bonnie Peterson is a visual artist investigating environmental and social issues using embroidery and maps. Peterson’s personal and political subjects have followed the trajectory of her life experiences from family and human rights issues to outdoor adventures and environmental science. Recent collaborations with scientists on concepts in fire ecology, atmospheric science, permafrost and other geosciences motivate her work. Peterson has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions in the US and abroad including the Museum of American Folk Art, Museum of Design Atlanta, Fresno Art Museum, Yosemite Museum, Notebaert Museum Chicago, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art-Chicago, Berlin Science Week, and Art/NaturSci Pavilion Venice. She is a two-time recipient of Artist Fellowships & two Artist Finalist awards from the Illinois Arts Council, a grant from the Michigan Arts & Culture Council, the Puffin Foundation Ltd, the Illinois Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and other honors. Peterson had four National Park artist residencies. Her work is in public and private collections including the Museum of Art & Design NYC. She has a BS from the University of Illinois-Urbana and an MBA from DePaul University.

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  • Artist Info

    • Houghton, MI
      US - East
    • 6306735530

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