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Meet Our New Board Member – Bonnie Rosenberg

We are thrilled to welcome Bonnie Rosenberg to our Executive Board. As the Director of Imaging at the Art Institute of Chicago, Bonnie brings a wealth of knowledge on documenting art and licensing images along with strong connections to Chicago’s art community. Bonnie will be serving on our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility committee.

In a new conversation series, studio artists will interview new board members to introduce them to our community. Bonnie and studio artist Chris Viau met on zoom this month for the first installment.

CHRIS: Why are you interested in Arts of Life?

BONNIE: I found Arts of Life through my friend, Erin Toale. She and I used to work together at the Museum of Contemporary Art and she told me about the organization. When they started looking for more board members, she reached out to me and asked if I would be interested. After doing a little bit more research, I jumped at the chance.

CHRIS: Why do you want to be a board member? 

BONNIE: I want to be a board member because arts and accessibility are two things that I’m really passionate about separately. And I think Arts of Life is a really unique intersection of both of those subjects. I create art. I have a disability. I’ve worked in the arts. And I try to make art spaces more accessible to people with disabilities. So to me this is a logical progression to be on the board of Arts of Life, so that I could continue working in the spaces that I am passionate about.

CHRIS: What kind of art do you like?

BONNIE: I really like contemporary art, because you never know what’s going to be created next. It’s the idea of art history in the making that’s really interesting to me. Like the works that we create now is the history that will exist later. And in terms of art that is not current, I’ve always really liked German Expressionism. Maybe it’s because there’s a certain sadness in it that I find beautiful.

CHRIS: What kind of art do you make?

BONNIE: I’m a dabbler. I’ve recently learned how to sew, so I’ve been making sort of sewing projects around the house. I paint a bit and I draw. I like to make things so even just redoing furniture is something that I like. 

CHRIS: Have you worked with people with disabilities before?

BONNIE: I have. The thing that I tried to convey in the work I do at the Art Institute is that what we think of as people with disabilities is a really wide spectrum. And so whether you’re working expressly for an organization that is comprised primarily of people with disabilities or not, you’re kind of always dealing with and interacting with people disabilities. You may not know that somebody has a disability – there’s invisible disability. I generally am encountering people with disabilities in my personal life, since I have a physical disability, and so does my sister. So disability is something that is present in my day to day life. And so yeah, in ways big and small, I work with people with disabilities.

CHRIS: What are you passionate about?

BONNIE: I recently had a baby. So I would say I’m passionate about my new son, Elliot, and establishing my new life as a small family. I really like to cook. Although I’m not a big eater. It’s a weird juxtaposition. I enjoy the creation of food but view food as fuel. So I don’t really care about what I eat so much as I just do it to function.

CHRIS: Any new ideas that you can bring to help Arts of Life grow?

BONNIE: That’s a good question. I think the thing that helps to grow is being open to new ideas. That’s where organizations that have long existed seem to falter – where it’s like, they have these established ways of working and so that’s the road we go down. If you’re not open to new ideas from the board members, from resident artists, from whomever, that’s where you run into problems. I think everybody has the capacity to bring good ideas to an organization and make it better.

CHRIS: Are you good at being a team player?

BONNIE: I think so. I think the way to tell if you’re going to be a team player is that like everybody seems to work happily together and get their work done. And I think that is the sort of environment that I try to create, one where people can be open and honest and sort of accomplish their goals. So I think in order to do that you have to be a team player and care personally about the people whom you’re working with.

CHRIS: What things do you find it easy and what do you find hard.

BONNIE: I can fit puzzle pieces – abstract ideas – together easily. Like my work at the Art Institute, that’s just putting vague ideas together. I can do that pretty easily in my brain. But things that are not up to me, like math. I am not very good at math. I’m really glad that as technology has evolved, the need for me to be good at math has decreased because the computers do it for me.

I’m curious, Chris, what brings you to Arts of Life. Why are you a part of the organization?

CHRIS: I love to make art.

BONNIE: That’s a good place to do it. Do you like making anything in particular.

CHRIS: Landscapes.

BONNIE: Oh, I love landscapes. Right before this meeting, I walked up to the lakefront and just sat there for a while with my husband and baby just staring at the waves coming onto the shore. It was a beautiful landscape. 

Your work is beautiful.

Have you been able to create as much work in this time that we’re working separately from each other.

CHRIS: Yeah.

BONNIE: How long have you been a part of Arts of Life?

CHRIS: 11 years.

BONNIE: Oh wow. You’re an old pro. You can show me the ropes. I only recently joined the board. 

ANNE: Chris also has worked as our archivist, so he helps to upload photos of art to our website.

BONNIE: Right. Very cool. Part of my job at the Art Institute is to not only document, sort of the collection and exhibition objects for the museum, but also to archive all those images so Chris you and I have much to talk about when it comes to archive in digital.