Mixed-media artist Bonnie Meltzer likes to joke that she was born to create works of art from disparate materials. “I like to say that I came out of the womb with a purple crayon in one hand and a crochet hook in the other,” she says.
The New Jersey native received a degree in art education from Montclair State College in Montclair, N.J., before moving to the Pacific Northwest to pursue an MFA in textile design at the University of Washington. “I’ve always worked as an artist or with artists,” says Meltzer. “And I’ve always had an interest in technology. I was one of those early adapters who combined art and technology; I designed webpages for other artists.”
Meltzer, who’s always worked with found objects, made some of her first pieces with old computer parts. “Their intrinsic beauty attracted me,” she says. “Many of the wires and pieces have very intricate and wonderful patterns as well as beautiful colors.” In fact, her Portland studio is filled with all sorts of things she uses—and might want to use—in her art. She has glass canning jars full of computer parts, nuts and bolts, and other bits and pieces.
A communications company commissioned the 5-foot-tall sculpture Hello (pictured), for which she used items from the company’s pile of cast-off materials. “The figures in the piece are using real telephones, and the hair is made from crocheted wire over curly cords,” she says. “I even used some switchboard lights from my own collection. The piece is in the lobby between two chairs, so if you sit down, you can have a conversation with it.” To make a similar 5-foot-tall sculpture would cost $1,200.
Contact mixed-media artist Bonnie Meltzer via her website, bonniemeltzer.com. In June, she will be having a show at the Beet Gallery (1720 N.W. Lovejoy St., 503-224-5000) in Portland.