Artists on Coping: Bonny Leibowitz

During the Coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping.

The Cloud As An Object, 2020, foam, acrylic, branches, faux fur

Bonny Leibowitz explores in her work the inner workings of consciousness, the transitory nature of thought and questions the construct of certainty. She utilizes a variety of materials including Tyvek, Plaster, Vinyl, Fosshape, Dura-lar, foam, wax, pigments, ink, found objects and more. Her solo exhibitions include Cohn Drennan Contemporary – Dallas, TX, The Museum of Art – Wichita Falls, TX, Art Cube Gallery – Laguna Beach, CA, Liliana Bloch Gallery – Dallas, TX, No.4 Studio – Brooklyn, NY and The Neon Heater – Findlay, OH. Originally from Philadelphia, Leibowitz lives in Dallas, TX. where she maintains her studio practice.

Semi Detached -The Wave as an Object, The Cloud as an Object, The Wind as an Object, 2020, Latex, foam, plastics, acrylic

AS: How are you coping?

BL: As I came to see what was unfolding, I went into emergency mode, scrambling to reorganize everything around my teaching businesses and have continued on that trajectory ever since with the exception of several hours off and on of hitting a wall and just languishing in bed, overcome with I can’t even say what, just overcome with every feeling a person could have around such a profound time for us and a general lethargy and exhaustion. It sometimes seems absurd to be productive and at other times, the right thing to do.

Eventually, when we got our shelter-in-place restrictions, I thought it wouldn’t bother me a bit but I realized, after a few weeks, that the profound sense of sadness was coming, in part, from that lack of connection. It’s been interesting to see how much I need that. I’ve been reaching out a bit more.

“Terra Unfirma”, the body of work I’ve been immersed in the last few years, has been about just this, the misunderstanding and appearance of things, of life as solid and unchanging, of how things “should” be, and how that certainty is a only a concept.

Semi Detached – Object 2, 2020, plastic

AS: Has your routine changed?

BL: In addition to making my own work, I run two teaching studios in Dallas; The Encaustic Center and The Bonny Studio. The teaching includes on-going weekly classes; with about 40 students per week at the Bonny Studio and 1 to 4-day workshops at The Encaustic Center conducted by guest artist / instructors here locally and from all over the country. As you can imagine, that has all come to a halt. I’ve had to reschedule flights, hotel stays, co-ordinate new dates – on and on. Participants from out-of-state and locally have also had to make adjustments, of course, it’s not been easy on anyone.

I’ve also been finding new ways to work online with artists – doing critiques on their work via email. I have always offered one-on-ones, but this is a little different where I mark up the work from images they send to resolve issues and strengthen the work technically, aesthetically and conceptually. I’m sharing links to artists they might find associations with and suggesting ways to move forward as we dialog about their interests. It’s been good, I’ve enjoyed it and I’m learning a lot in the process.

Although I’ve snuck in some studio hours here and there, these adjustments have kept me away from the studio and I’ve been at the computer much of the time. As we’re now looking at late May, at least, before classes and workshops will hopefully resume, I should have a good chunk of time to make work again soon.

Semi Detached – Object 6, 2020, rawhide

AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?

BL: My feelings have been all over the place, at first, denial. That didn’t last long. Once I began to see the severity and impact of what was going on, my thoughts and feelings began moving in and out of shock and sadness. I’ve felt, however, an underlying gratefulness for how vulnerable, interdependent and resourceful we all are.

I’ve been incredibly humbled by some of the amazing people in my life who have contributed support for my work and the studios. I see a lot of creative good coming out of it all, as well. Its great to see the exciting ways artists have made built new ways to reach out, teach online and create new groups to share work in. The impulse to connect in new ways is an exciting to watch and be a part of.

Object 20, 2020, branch, foam

AS: What matters most right now?

BL: I’m most thankful for the health of my son, my family and friends. In the past year, my son and his girlfriend moved from LA back to Dallas. It’s been so wonderful to be able to see them regularly. Now, being thoughtful of our health and the shelter-in-place restrictions, it’s been sad to not have the dinners and the great hugs and time together. Thank goodness for Zoom and all the other means of connection. What matters now, is staying in the moment. I’m interested to see how this time will impact the work.

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

BL: If life looks anything like it did, pre-pandemic, my exhibition; “Terra Unfirma”, originally slated for May 15th 2020 at M. David & Co. will be re-scheduled for the next best date. With the time I’ve had so far in the studio, since this situation unfolded, I’m finding a real unraveling of any restrictions on the work and myself. It seems even more so, that the work will take the turns it needs to take – I just need to show up. That’s an interesting place to be right now.

Cascade as An Object, 2020, foam and acrylic

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email: