Arts Galleries

Bonnie Cooper’s Interbeing Project at Burnsville TRAC


By Natasha Anderson

Toe River Arts Council (TRAC) presents The Interbeing Project, the Interface of Woman and Nature, a photography exhibit by Bonnie Cooper, beginning with a reception and artist’s talk on Saturday, June 24, from 5–7 p.m., and running through August 5. The exhibition of 21 framed prints reveals female nudes composited with representations of nature, creating a merger and relationship between the two.

“I hope that viewers will experience this exhibit as a celebration of woman’s natural beauty as well as the beauty of the natural world,” says Cooper, “and that they will appreciate the intimacy implied in both the creation of the images and their final portrayal.”

Cooper, who was a practicing psychotherapist for more than 30 years, set out to depict a psychophysiological state with the images, focusing them around emotional revelation and highlighting expression through physicality. Her use of non-professional models, most of whom had never posed nude before, adds a sense of vulnerability to the photographs. The images from nature—waterfalls, canyons, trees—used in the final compositions, were inspired by the models themselves, and the text that accompanies each image reveals the model’s thoughts on her participation in the project, how she felt about her body and her reflections on the final image.

“Not only is Cooper’s work well executed, the myriad themes that juxtapose nature and the human form will evoke viewer introspection and conversation,” says Kate Groff, program and marketing director for TRAC.

Cooper began pursuing the art of photography in 2000. In addition to The Interbeing Project, her portfolio includes nature and landscape photography and images that reflect the Appalachian barn tradition. Her work encompasses a variety of styles as well, with broad vistas, intimate landscapes, abstracts, black and white and impressionistic images. Cooper regularly exhibits her work in WNC, including at aSHEville museum, where The Interbeing Project was on display from November 2015 to September 2016.

“I look forward to sharing this body of work in a different locale and expanding its reach,” says Cooper. “It is now more important than ever to draw attention to our connection with the natural world, to value our relationship to it, to celebrate its beauty and life-giving support, and respect what it has to teach us.”

Toe River Arts Council’s Burnsville Gallery is at 102 West Main Street, in Burnsville. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. To learn more, visit, or call 828.682.7215.

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