CFCC Alumna Enriches Local Art Community
Wilmington artist Bonnie England graduated from Cape Fear Community College with an associate of arts degree in 2002.
Born in Detroit, Bonnie estimates that she moved forty times by the time she was fourteen years old. The daughter of a self-described â€œwar veteran, musician, gambler and computer consultant,â€ Bonnie says her early transient lifestyle shaped two pursuits that have become recurring themes in her life â€“ travel and the arts. â€œThroughout all this moving, the one constant was my art,â€ she says. â€œI always had my drawing pencils with me and I was constantly creating.â€
After high school, Bonnie enjoyed a brief stint at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, NC where she continued to refine her passion for art under the direction of some talented instructors. However, like so many students, her life took an unexpected course and she left her studies to get married and start a family.
Several years later in the late 1990â€™s, Bonnie arrived at CFCC quite a different person. A divorced mother of a six-year-old and four-year-old twins, Bonnie enrolled in the associate of arts program
to finally finish her degree. She describes her experience at CFCC as â€œfantastic.â€ â€œIt was mostly an overview of the arts,â€ she says, â€œbut it gave me a well-rounded field of resources to pull fromâ€¦learning
about the humanities, psychology, mathâ€¦all of these are useful whether you plan to start your own business or work for someone else.â€
After graduating from CFCC in 2000 as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society, Bonnie transferred to UNC Wilmington, where she received two degrees cum laude, a Bachelor’s in Art History and Bachelor’s in Studio Art. Bonnieâ€™s education would serve her well: in 2006 she opened the popular Bottega art gallery and wine bar in downtown Wilmington.
After many successful years, she later sold the business, which freed up time for her to enjoy her second passion â€“ travel. â€œAfter I sold Bottega, I traveled a lot,â€ she says. Visits to France, Spain and Macedonia gave her many great art experiences and dramatically broadened her cultural outlook. â€œBy nature I like to help others, especially those who are less fortunate,â€ Bonnie says. â€œIn the back of my mind I always wanted to do something that allows me both to travel and find ways to connect with non-profit organizations.â€
In France, Bonnie worked with a charitable organization called â€œPaint a Future,â€ which invites children in third-world countries to express their own personal and unique vision of their future through original
paintings. Working with other professional artists, Bonnie helped to re-interpret the childrenâ€™s paintings into larger pieces that have been exhibited around Europe. All profits from these paintings go
directly to the childâ€™s family to help them realize the dreams expressed in their artwork.
Bonnieâ€™s passion for helping others has ultimately led her to her latest endeavor, Projekte, a multi-purpose art center and lounge on the corner of Third and Castle streets in downtown Wilmington.
â€œProjekte (pronounced â€œpro-yek-tahâ€) is German for â€˜projects,â€™â€ she says. The spaceâ€™s name is very appropriate, as it houses an on-going slate of diverse projects including rotating art installations, wine
tastings, yoga classes, figure-drawing classes, art classes, fund-raising events for community-based organizations and a â€œcreative exchangeâ€ for local artists the second Saturday of every month.
This imaginative venue also provides Bonnie with a place to create and display her own artwork. A stroll through the gallery reveals a prolific collection of drawings and paintings. Her recent work features several colorful oils on canvas which she paints using her fingers instead of brushes. â€œI am a frenetic painter â€“ I like to stand up while Iâ€™m painting and move around a lot, adding energy to each painting.â€
In addition, Bonnie has utilized her new space to give back to the CFCC art community. Currently a two-week exhibit showcases the diversity of CFCC art students including paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and metal work. Upcoming exhibits will showcase the work of specific CFCC art classes. â€œI am very supportive of CFCC and UNCW art students,â€ she says. â€œI love providing them a venue to highlight their work.â€ Projekte also provides a space for the CFCC jazz ensemble to perform two to three times per month.
Not surprisingly, Bonnieâ€™s vision for the future includes more art, more travel and more support for the Wilmington arts community. And her advice for aspiring CFCC art students is simple: â€œStay true to yourself and develop your own style. We each have our own artistic voice and itâ€™s important to develop that.â€ Clearly, Bonnie is using her own artistic voice to make Wilmington a much better place for artists.