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

I use embroidery to investigate cultural and environmental issues. Mixing a variety of source materials such as scientific data and explorer’s journals, I stitch words and numerical graphs on silk and velvet fabrics to make narrative wall hangings and a series of annotated topographic maps. My recent projects examine geophysical climate issues and are inspired by collaborations with scientists. I seek straightforward explanations for the important principles in environmental science and attempt to convey simple and complex layers of meaning. The foundation for each project begins with developing an understanding of published research and climate data generated by satellite instruments and other exploratory data collection tools. My interest in climate is motivated by backpacking trips in California’s Sierra mountain range. Lengthy walks and primitive exploration integrate the impacts of contemporary society and historical context; and this provides a novel opportunity for the consideration of current events and ethical questions.


Bonnie Peterson is a visual artist investigating environmental and social issues using embroidery. 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. Recently, collaborations with scientists on concepts in fire ecology, atmospheric science, permafrost and other geosciences motivate her work. Peterson had four National Park artist residencies. She 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, Berlin Science Week, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, and Art/NaturSci Pavilion Venice. Peterson received four individual artist grants from the Illinois Arts Council, a grant from the Illinois Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and other honors. Her work is in public and private collections including the Museum of Art & Design NYC. She has a BS from the University of Illinois at Urbana and an MBA from DePaul University. Originally from the Chicago area, Peterson recently relocated to Houghton, Michigan where she has a studio.

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  • Artist Info

    • Houghton, MI
      US - East
    • 6306735530

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