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Meet Olivia Bonilla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Olivia Bonilla.

Hi Olivia, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I have been creative ever since I can remember.

In my younger years, we didn’t have much, but I believe this was part of what drove my creativity. Forced to think creatively to entertain and occupy the time, from picnics on the green shag rug to riding bikes around the trailer park and making friends with all the stray cats. The play was always part of growing up, but also a way to escape.

When I was younger, my mother always fostered my creativity, and as a professional artist today I really appreciate her for that. All the art classes and exposure to different materials have made their mark on the array of experimentation I partake in as an adult. I cared on to explore photography, sculpture, and drawing and obtain a bachelor’s degree in painting from Lyme academy college of fine arts.

It’s been 7 years since college and so much artistic growth has happened. I’ve stuck with my love for exploration and today have managed to combine years of experimentation into one artistic vision.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Most defiantly NOT a smooth ride. I had years of juggling other jobs to manage a studio practice. I was persistent with the studio and refused to take full-time work for fear of losing studio time. To a fault, I always put my practice first and many sacrifices were made.

For example; back in December of 2019, I remember I had back-to-back shows. I was not only working in the studio every chance I had but had to take time off from a restaurant job that was paying the bills. The shows were a success, with back-to-back write-ups in the local press.

Unfortunately, the sales weren’t there and my sacrifice to put my Artwork first put me out of my day job. When you find yourself googling “Famous artists that were homeless” feel some sense of hope. Pretty sure that’s rock bottom. Took it as a sign and decided to make the move to a new city. Charleston SC has been good to me, I’ve been a full-time artist for the past three years, through the pandemic and all.

There’s defiantly truth in when you experience rock bottom, there’s a different kind of grit that encompasses your drive. I took risks with no fear of failing, I extended myself to every opportunity with the hope that if it’s not this one another one will rise.

I embraced a new community with open arms, all while creating and allowing my influences to take shape in my work. Believe in the work, be authentic in the work, and the work will take you places… I truly believed that.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m a Pop Art Sculptor, I work with casted cement and resin.

I’m most known for my confectionary sculptures of never-ending ice-cream stacks, oversize gummy bears, and a toy gun series called “Cowboy Candy”. People know me for my 90s nostalgic references, and childhood memorabilia. All my castings are directly influenced by childhood pastimes; Hot Wheels, Legos, Gummy bears, Rubix cubes, etc.

I use unconventional materials to create a sugar-coated finish. I form cement in a way that gives the appearance of melted fluff. Coated with resin and an exploration of automotive finishes creates the sugar-coated look. As a sculptor with a painter’s background, color theory is a big part of my work.

A color world that takes you back to being a kid excited about your favorite flavor. The Infatuation with color combinations to feelings and the exploitation of color in popular culture are my influence.

Although there are moments of satire in my work, I love that my work can relate to all age groups. The communal ritual of sweets, the color of flavor, and pop association are all around us. I find it fulfilling to communicate my love for these things through materiality.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
I’m a big fan of vintage cars and motorcycles. I have a 96’ Harley Sportster that my fiancée and I are building into a chopper and a 72” Ford F100 were working on. He is a very talented craftsman, the mechanic mastermind behind the build and I’m more or less designing paintwork and embellishments.

My fiancé and I enjoy the pastime of watching videos of professional automotive paint technicians. Memorized by the taping, templates, and gradient “Kandy” colors. The colors that are available are quite endless. I can appreciate the attention to detail and the technique involved. As a sculptor, it’s 80% technical and 20% creative, all about execution once the creative vision has been identified.

For example, the vision- Bubble Gum Pearlescent finish with matte cement cream and a transparent ruby red cherry drip. Execution- what intensity do I want the pearl? What shade of pink? how are my cement forms going to fall into composition? and how is the cherry drip going to pull it all together?

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Taylor Jarvis @palegirlphoto

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