Through her photography, Bonnie Cooper hopes to inspire in viewers a gratitude for women, the natural world, curiosity, and connection. Featuring her composite photographs in which a woman’s body is merged with a particular aspect of nature, The Interbeing Project: The Interface of Woman & Nature will be on display at aSHEville museum beginning November 20 with a reception and artist discussion from 5:30–7:30 p.m. The exhibit will run until September 1 of 2016. “I’ve always been attracted to the essence of things, the awareness of what women’s bodies and women’s lives share with Nature,” says Bonnie. “Cycles of birth, death, and regeneration, daily cycles, the monthly cycles, the ongoing cycles of beauty, aging, and transformation are all energetic expressions of womankind’s story and the nature of Nature.” Images were taken in a studio setting and later merged with images from Bonnie’s portfolio. “What I loved is that none of them were professional models, just women who were willing to adventure into a shared creative experience where the exact outcome was unknown,” says Bonnie.
When asked what inspired this project, Bonnie recalls a photography workshop she took in 2003 during which she was asked to create a self-portrait. “The workshop was conducted in the height of fall when we were surrounded by brilliant colors, rushing rivers, and approachable mountains. Even more than being surrounded by this incredible beauty, I felt a deep connection to the elements of water, rock, and trees. One could say it felt like they were part of me, me of them, locked in a lover’s embrace. It was this emotion that I captured in my self-portrait.” Bonnie, a psychotherapist for more than 30 years, continues, “My desire is to externalize a feeling state that is often felt deeply and personally when we are truly connected with some aspect of nature. I wish to draw attention to this state of mind, this interbeing with the natural world, in order to celebrate its beauty, its mystery, and what it has to teach us.”