As a child Deborah Bohnert lived with her American parents for many years in Japan. She was raised there also by Yoshiko, a kind Japanese woman who impressed upon her the culture of Japan and the importance of being mindful of the environment. When her family moved back to America, they lived in many different places like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Georgia. Now she lives on the coast of New England with her husband and two cats.
She graduated from Boston University in the Fine Arts Painting Program in 1972 and began extensive training in Gillean Therapy at the Cambridge Psychotherapy Institute. She combined these experiences to bring art therapy to jails, alternative schools, mental institutions, etc. Then in 1977 she began a private practice in psychotherapy, which she continues today. In 1999, she began studying art with Bernd Haussmann, the German/American Abstract painter who greatly reinforced Deborah's deep conviction of the importance of art and nature being connected in the world. Her experience of being a psychotherapist (studying man) and her intense study of nature through observation, meditation and art has confirmed her strong belief that everything is a product of nature. In all of her work, Deborah Bohnert forms organic structures, evocative of the interconnection of events in nature, expressing the process -- the evolution. Whether she is working with stacking layers of translucent paint on Plexiglas or creating vessels with fiberglass and paint or forming sculptures from latex or painting on canvas, her primary concern is to convey a deep connection to nature. Her work has been shown in numerous museums, galleries and has won many awards. For example, at the Florence Griswold Museum, the exhibition The American River. Out of 1,600 entries she was awarded first prize for her piece "1024 Days" by Carl Belz, Curator Emeritus of the Rose Art Museum; Jeff Rosenheim, Assistant Curator of Photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Linda Simmons, Curator Emeritus of the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. Harry Cooper, Curator of Modern Art at Fogg Art Museum said, "Your work seems to be exploring the line between sculpture and painting in a remarkable way." When he awarded her Best of Show he said, "Technique is crucial in making art. But what is it? Is it the power to make materials do exactly what you want? Or is it the ability to establish a dialogue with them, to let them use you a much as vice versa? This second kind of mastery is not easy to come by. To get it you have to acquire the first kind (at least partly) and then let it go. In fact, it is less mastery than a level of comfort with the medium, a receptivity to its surprising suggestions, its crazy imperatives, its shouts and murmurs. This was my outlook in selecting the works for exhibition, and especially in awarding the prizes. Finally, Laura Heon, Curator Mass MoCA said "This is beautiful work and I am impressed by your creative and masterful use of materials."
1999 - 2005: Personal study with Bernd Haussmann.
1973 - 1976: Boston University Bachelor of Fine Arts. Painting Program
1970 - 1972: Dean Jr. College, Associate in Science. Visual Arts program.
2010: Big Town Gallery, Rochester Vt: "Mobius" Performance Art of Installation: "We Are All Flowers"
2010: Carney Gallery, Regis College Performance Art, "Untitled #12 Evolved"
2009: Brush Art Gallery Performance piece of "Untitled #12"
2007: Danforth Museum of Art
2007: Brush Art Gallery
SELECTED EXHIBITIONS (* denotes solo or two person exhibitions)
2017: BigTown Gallery Vergennes, VT: "The Baker's Dozen"
2013: Big Town Gallery Rochester, VT: "Juice Bar"
*2012: "Walk Into My Heart", Installation, Front Street, Marblehead
2011: The Schoolhouse Gallery, Spring Competition
2011: Danforth Museum of Art: "Community of Artists" Katherine French, Director of The Danforth Museum
2011: BigTown Gallery Rochester, VT: "The Small Wall"
2010: Lesley University Marran Gallery, "The Art of Healers"
2010: Danforth Museum of Art: "Off The Wall" co-juried by Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, Jen Mergel, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts
2010: The Schoolhouse Gallery, Spring Competition, curated by Vicky Tomayko
2010: "Mobius, Experimental Alternative Flower Show" Installation, curator Cathy Nolan Vincevic
2010: Carney Gallery, Regis College, "The Art of Healing/The Art of Psychotherapists" Jean Winslow
2009: Brush Art Gallery, "The Art of Healing/The Art of Psychotherapists" Jean Winslow
2009: Danforth Museum of Art: "Community of Artists" Katherine French, Director of The Danforth Museum
2008: A.I.R. Gallery, NYC: "Generations 6, Invitational Exhibition of Small Works"
*2007: Trustman Art Gallery: "Spinning Straw Into Gold, Ethics of Production" Curated by Barbara O'Brien, Director Trustman Art Gallery, Simmons College
2007: Danforth Museum of Art: "New England Photographers" Jurors: Karen Haas, Curator of the Lane Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston & Arlette Kayafas, Director of the Kayafas Gallery, Boston
2007: JURORS PRIZE: Brush Art Gallery: "Massachusetts Artists 2007" curated by Raphaela Platow Curator, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University
2007: Danforth Museum of Art: "Community of Artists" Katherine French, Director of The Danforth Museum
*2006: Montserrat College of Art Solo Exhibition: "Out of the Ordinary" curated by Leonie Bradbury Gallery Director, Curator Montserrat College
2006: Attleboro Arts Museum: "Small Works Exhibition" juried by Katherine French, Director, Danforth Museum & Nancy Whipple Grinnell, Curator, Newport Art Museum
*2006: BigTown Gallery Rochester, VT: "Contemporary Portraiture"
2006: A.I.R. Gallery, NYC: "Feminist Fashion Show" jurors: Valerie Steele (Director of the Museum at F.I.T. and fashion historian), Mimi Smith (artist), Daria Dorosh (artist and F.I.T. Professor), BUST Magazine editor, Maki Kawakita (fashion photographer), Kayte Terry (Ladyfest*East Fashion Committee Head), & Hannah Howard (designer, Sexfruit Diety).
2006: Brandeis University: "Vital Voices: Women's Visions" Wendy Tarlow Kaplan, curator at the Kniznick Gallery (WSRC) & Raphaela Platow, Curator at the Rose Art Museum
2005: Peabody Essex Museum: "In Nature's Company" -October 2004 -September 2005
2005: Danforth Museum of Art: "New England Photographers 2005" juried by Leslie Brown, Curator, Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, Boston, MA, Blake Fitch, Executive Director, Griffin Museum of Photography. Winchester, MA, Beverly Snow, Photographer and Manager of the Danforth Museum of Art School, & Katherine French, Director of the Danforth Museum of Art.
2005: Griffin Museum of Photography: "1th National Juried Exhibition" juried by Andy Grundberg
*2004: Fort Point Gallery, Boston: "Skin: Two person show" juried Barbara O'Brien, Executive Director, Art New England & curated by Bernd Haussmann
2004: HONORABLE MENTION: Attleboro Museum: "6th Annual Small Works" juried by Dorothy Simpson Krause, Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts College of Art
2003: BEST OF SHOW: Florence Griswold Museum: "The American River" juried by Carl Belz, Curator Emeritus of the Rose Art Museum
2001: BEST OF SHOW: Cambridge Art Association: "Red" juried by Harry Cooper, Curator of Modern Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA
SELECTED AWARDS AND HONORS
- Nominated for the James and Audrey Foster Prize at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
"Though I wasn't picked as a finalist, I was honored to be nominated for the James and Audrey Foster prize by Barbara O'Brien." - Deborah Bohnert
- Best Of Show, The American River, Juried by Carl Beltz, Curator Emeritus of the Rose Art Museum and editor of Art New England
"One looks for the surprise when one is in front of a piece of art."
- Best Of Show, Brush Art Gallery, Massachusetts Artists 2007 by Raphaela Platow Curator, Rose Art Museum
- The Aperture Award, The Print Center: 80th Annual International Competition: Photography, Juror, Stephen Pinson, Curator, Photography Collection, The New York Public Library
- Honorable Mention, Attleboro Museum, Attleboro, MA, 6th Annual Small Works, juried by Simpson Krause, Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts College of Art
- Honorable Award, Gallery on the Green, Canton CT, 4th Annual National Small Works, juried by Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, Director of Curatorial Affairs at Decordova Museum and Sculpture Park
- Best Of Show, Cambridge Art Association, Red, Harry Cooper, Curator of Modern Art, Harvard University Art Museums
"Technique is crucial in making art. But what is it? Is it the power to make materials do exactly what you want? Or is it the ability to establish a dialogue with them, to let them use you as much as vice versa? This second kind of mastery is not easy to come by. To get it you have to acquire the first kind (at least partly) and then let it go. In fact, it is less mastery than a level of comfort with the medium, a receptivity to its surprising suggestions, its crazy imperatives, its shouts and murmurs. This was my outlook in selecting the works for exhibition, and especially in awarding the prizes." - Harry Cooper
SELECTED PUBLICATIONS & REVIEWS (see Press sidebar for more)
2012: JUNE, Artscope Magazine, Review by James Foritano, "Walk Into My Heart"
2012: JUNE, ArtThrob Magazine, "Eyewitness: Walk Into My Heart"
2009: studio visit, volume eight: "Shooting on 90 Riverton Street" pg. 16 (See Press sidebar to download PDF)
2009: studio visit, volume six: "Untitled #5 & #8" pg. 20 (See Press sidebar to download PDF)
2008: studio visit, volume three: "The Little Fruits" pg. 28 (See Press sidebar to download PDF)
2008: studio visit, volume two: "The Little Fruits" pg. 14 (See Press sidebar to download PDF)
2007: NOVEMBER, Artscope Magazine, "Lush" by James Foritano
"...they dialogue with their new painterly backgrounds as awed onlooker, rambunctious participant or perhaps as an escapee regarding wistfully the illusionist frames from which they've dared to emerge into a world of time and consequence."
2007: NOVEMBER, The Boston Globe, "Lush" by Cate McQuaid
"This tangy, gorgeous, funny exhibit highlights the talents of two artists who spin froth out of nightmares. Bohnert positions found objects such as toys in front of abstract paintings, which are in themselves bright objects straddling childrens'-party pep and ragged decay. The pairings (as in "The Little Fruits#35a", right) are comic, provocative, and visually resonant."
2007: Foto-ethnographie by Ulrich Hägele: "The visual method in the folk culture science. Bohnert's Color Series photo on the book cover as well."
2007: SEPTEMBER 6, The Boston Globe, "Biennial in focus at Danforth" by Denise Taylor
"...Both photographers and jurors are clamoring to either get into or to jury what has become one of the region's premier showcases for regional talent.
...This is a very, very important show," said Leslie Brown, curator of Boston University's Photographic Resource Center, who cocurated the 2005 Biennial. "It's just exciting. It's a real community builder, and a lot of people come up to see it and to see who's in it."
...Ask Karen Haas, curator of the Museum of Fine Arts Lane Collection, about the range of work chosen, and the excitement in her voice is palpable. "Some of the work that we particularly loved felt very personal,"said Haas, who cocurated this year's biennial with Arlette Kayafas, director of Kayafas Gallery of Boston."
2007: Metro West Daily News, "Where Art is All in the Family" by Chris Bergeron
"...Executive Director Katherine French described the paired shows as offering "some of the best contemporary work being made around Boston." ...Marblehead resident Deborah Bohnert's almost indefinable "Skin Wall" installation uses numerous balloons and other barely recognizable objects to give the impression of submarine life forms crawling along a beach."
2007: The Daily New Tribune: "On the Road to Lowell" by Chris Bergeron
"...The biennial Massachusetts Artists exhibit at the Brush Art Gallery showcases deserving artists from across the state. "..In a series of subversive self-portraits, Deborah Bohnert portrays herself with deadpan humor as "Fairy Princess Debby"
2006: The Print Center, 80th Annual International Competition
"I found that I was drawn to images created by artists who consciously played upon photography's inherent ability to create what I've come to think of as 'vestiges' -- visible signs (in a physical, rather than theoretical sense) of things witnessed, left, lost, remembered, or imaged"...... "Deborah Bohnert plays somewhere in the margins; her photograph nostalgically points to a not so distant past, but is obscured by other traces, which are themselves evidence of other histories, other media." - Stephen C. Pinson, Curator, Photography Collection, The New York Public Library
2005: JANUARY 21, The Boston Herald: "Show more than 'Skin' deep" by Joanne Silver
"...A more startling vision of man and nature bursts forth in Bohnert's art. The doctored balloons sport eye-popping colors along with physiological oddities. A Valentine's Day's worth of pinks radiates from the painted covers of the four round throw pillows. Found wooden boxes hold poetic pairings of objects, such as a hinged shell and a fleshy deflated balloon. Everywhere, objects hint at organisms growing and dying."
2004: DECEMBER 31, The Boston Globe: "More than 'Skin' deep" by Cate McQuaid
"...Deborah Bohnert makes strong work that consistently unsettles; it both attracts and repels, and that's a good thing. ...Bohnert carries this exhibit."
2005: APRIL/MAY, Art New England
"...The best remain the paintings in which Bohnert has made one big gesture (like an irregular, kidney-shaped pool of pink flesh tone on white.) Some have added fabric collage elements; though merely garments (a lacey sleeve, a ribbed blouse), these attachments read as fossils, suggesting a human presence."
2003: APRIL/MAY, Art New England
"...The final image often feels like an allusion to nature, something perhaps viewed under a microscope. Initial familiarity fades as layers seem to separate from and then melt back into the overall image, almost as if it being viewed is activating the work."
2002: JUNE, The American River Catalogue