Bonnie Collura

BFA, 1996

Bonnie Collura received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1994 and her Masters of Fine Arts degree from Yale University in 1996. She is the recipient of a 1997 Emerging Artist Award from the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, a 2003 Rolex Protégé nomination, a 2005 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a 2010 United States Artists Fellowship nomination, a 2010 MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and has received five research grants from Penn State University, including a 2010 Stuckeman Endowment for Design Computing. Collura’s sculptures, drawings, and outdoor works have been exhibited in domestic and international galleries and museums spanning the United States, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, and India. Ms. Collura’s work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Art Forum, Art in America, Art News, Flash Art, BOMB magazine, Beautiful Decay, Teme Celeste, Sculpture Magazine, Time Out New York, Up & Coming: The Emerging Art Scene in New York, and several other print and on-line publications.

Currently, Ms. Collura is working on three large-scale projects entitled White Light, Imperceptible Rupture andPatchworkWhite Light is an immersive sculptural and video installation built off a 10-layer wearable called Armor for White Light. Imperceptible Rupture is series of nine abstracted portraits made of collaged casts from a decade of flexible rubber mold imprints.  Patchwork consists of several fuse form figurative shells dissected by tailored fabric.

Collura is currently an Associate Professor at Penn State University, teaching in the Sculpture Department. Prior to her appointment at Penn State she taught at Yale University, Columbia University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Rhode Island School of Design, Tyler School of Art, University of the Arts, and Parsons The New School for Design. She currently lives in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania with her husband and domestic shorthair cat, Louise Bourgeois.

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What have you been up to since graduating from VCU?

After I graduated, I received my MFA from Yale University and moved to Brooklyn, NY. In 2000, I came back to Richmond to work on a large project while teach undergraduate courses while Elizabeth King was on sabbatical. What an honor it was to teach along side the educators that helped me so much as a young maker! In 2002, I returned to Brooklyn, continued to show my work and began to teach at many top tier east coast art programs. I accepted a tenure track job at Penn State University School of Visual Arts in 2007, where I currently hold an Associate Professor appointment.

What advice would you give a current VCU Sculpture student?

At this point in your creative development, everything is designed to point towards you, to assist you. Facilities are being upgraded, faculty expertise is ever present, peers are waiting to bounce ideas and projects off you. Your creative life is like a sculpture—the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. Work to build into the artist you thought was never possible. When you do, always remember the critical material that allowed you to get there: the generosity of others. Do not be an empty builder; do not only take. Be a confident builder; do give back. Giving of yourself—to your practice, to your peers, even to people you do not know– will have a profound impact on your future creative self.

How did VCU prepare you for your current situation?

While VCU undoubtedly gave me tremendous amounts of building knowledge, what really prepared me to become the artist I am today were the examples my professors gave me. Art making and teaching seemed to be a dedicated passion for each one of them– there were no fakers in the bunch. Regardless of what their individual success or struggles may have been, what I absorbed by their collective body was consistent connectivity to the agency of art. This prepared me to form an alliance with my creativity as a character building tool, irrespective of how it may dovetail into a CV.

How do you define success?

This is a complex question. Part of me feels compelled to break down success in relation to the personal, artistic, and professional aspects of my life. There certainly are things I still wish to achieve in all these areas! At its base, success is less about a collection of accolades and more about the wake one leaves behind them. Perhaps this wake comes from art, speech, touch or actions. It is different for everyone. For me, it is important that I feel at ease with the marks that I make. If the overall collection of my (visible and nonvisible) marks contribute beneficially to something, I think that is the best I can hope for.

Why did you decide to study sculpture?

Embodying Sculpture allows one to scalpel into a particular technique while also being conceptually experimental. This is thrilling combination. Sculpture also keeps me on my toes, a quality I admire. I can make the most wickedly formed outdoor sculpture, but if I don’t have the right size threaded nut for its corresponding bolt, a full blown installation on site can come to a complete stop. Finite threads must merge with these exact grooves! Yet, what I love most about being a Sculptor is that it asks one to respect and celebrate the vast and the tiny in tandem, giving each equal prominence.

Is there a question we should ask you, but didn’t?

Question: What two words can reveal your value while showing how much you value another?

Answer: thank you.