Imagine a portrait made exclusively from thread? Provide a photo, and through her latest project, Bonnie MacAllister will transform it into a line drawing and render it in thread by combining both hand and machine embroidery. Pretty AMAZING! Order here.
After traveling to Ethiopia in 2009 on a Fulbright-Hays grant to study history, culture, and migration of the Ethiopian people, Bonnie began documenting the people she met in her travels. She captured a young girl who would learn to skateboard, a dancer, a weaver, and the men and women teachers she worked with through the University of Addis Ababa. She learned to spin wool and to weave garments on this journey, and this painter and photographer was determined to incorporate textiles into her artistic practice.
When she returned to the United States, she exhibited her work at the University of Pennsylvania, the Delaware Art Museum, Frostburg University, and Glenview Mansion. Her projects have been as community reaching as covering Maplewood Mall next to Imperfect Gallery with yarn, thanks to the vision of Germantown artists who collaborated with children, the library knitting and crochet group, and men and women to create a cozy neighborhood space. She received a grant from the Philadelphia Department of Commerce to do the same in her neighborhood on Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. Bonnie demonstrated how to spin yarn from fleece from a number of organic materials and different sorts of wool, and she engaged the Night Market crowd to create a quick piece with just their fingers or using tools. (This event was created by the Food Trust, a nonprofit working to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions.) Her own fiber work uses organic vegan materials such a cotton, hemp, bamboo, and linen while other pieces incorporate cruelty free animal projects such as farm sheared fleece and fiber from sheep, mohair goats, and angora rabbits. She travels directly to farms and festivals to meet with the farmers to ensure the quality and the safety of the animals who source her materials.
Bonnie has currently created a project with Demandville, a project based site currently in beta, that started in both San Francisco and Philadelphia, where artists and designers can pre-sell and receive feedback on their ideas and prototypes. This portrait in thread is offered at an affordable rate, much lower than a typical gallery sale. This is a way to get an affordable portrait done, made in a unique way, both by hand and incorporating maker level technology created by a Bucks County born, Philadelphia artist. It’s one thing to buy a quick caricature. The end result here is long lasting, archived in fiber on strong felt. This process takes layers of production time, conceived by your image and idea, transferred into an original line drawing, and then sewn by hand and by a sewing machine in upwards of 20 colors that can range from metallic, neon, and a diverse a color palate as any paint selection. Bonnie has even created a portrait for the project featuring a koala, and she looks forward to sewing more memories.