Maggie Reid, Features Editor
If you go down to the library concourse, then you will find the newly renovated Barrett Art Gallery and its latest exhibition titled “Carbon Impermanence: Works by David Bonagurio.”
Graphite—a crystalline allotrope of carbon—is Bonagurio’s medium of choice.
“At its basic, it [graphite] is just carbon, it is naturally occurring, a very basic element,” Bonagurio said. “Carbon itself is one of most known elements in the broader universe. I like it for its simplicity, and what it says about my subject matter because my subject matter is mostly basic emotions and basic feelings.”
When Bonagurio drew, he always used graphite pencils because they were a readily available medium.
“I started doing fine work with pencils, detailed work,” Bonagurio said. “I found out in high school that there was a lot more variation in graphite than the standard yellow pencil. This opened up a lot of possibilities.”
It was not until graduate school, however, that Bonagurio discovered powdered graphite, which is what he currently uses, after being inspired by artist Sophie Jodoin.
“She (Jodoin) was doing beautiful drawings; I started to dabble in that because I liked the look,” Bonagurio said. “That’s one of the ways you learn, by picking up something someone else has done by doing a variation.
Bonagurio was exposed to art at a young age because of his mother who continues to paint to this day. Her studio was also his sibling’s game room growing up, so he was always exposed to art.
“She’s not a full-time artist, she’s a nurse, but that is where my initial interest came from,” Bonagurio said. “We would go to museums, and any opportunity that I had I would go see art. In high school, I started taking art classes and was astonished when I found out I could go to college for it, so I went that route.”
He received his bachelor’s degree in drawing from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2009 and then earned a post-baccalaureate certificate in fine art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He later received his master’s degree in painting from Syracuse University in 2014.
Bonagurio’s subject manner is focused on feelings and emotions. He also reads scientific articles to help inspire his artistic process.
“Science is a very basic way of addressing anything, it gets to the fundamentals,” Bonagurio said. “It’s not to say the work is sterile and systematic, but I think the systematic approach to these emotional concepts is a good way of getting a base level where you can kind of extrapolate from there.
“I love the field of cosmology because it is a look at the broader concepts of everything and where we fit within that. I like it because a lot of this work is about transitions and having that broader perspective is a good way to take the types of issues you have in your own personal life and either stepping back or taking them out further.”
Bonagurio would say that the most rewarding part of being an artist is when you can have your work shown and people get something out of it.
“I feel like works of art are forms of communication,” Bonagurio said. “Obviously, it is different from having a conversation with somebody; it is like a dynamic conversation that you don’t have to be there for, people can take out of it what they need, and hopefully that’s helpful. Hearing people tell me what they got out of it, or that they were able to take what they needed, that’s very gratifying.”
Bonagurio’s exhibition has been in the works for over a year.
Megan Austin, the director of the Edith Langley Barrett Art Gallery, is nearing her one-year anniversary at Utica College and is attempting to shape the gallery in her own vision—Austin felt that Bonagurio’s work would be the perfect way to introduce the new programmatic direction.
“My aesthetic is different than has been exhibited in the past,” Austin said. “Moving forward, the aesthetics are what I want to present here in the gallery, but the content also offers more opportunities for interdisciplinary connections. That is one of the key elements of any artist that I want to bring into Utica College; to be able to utilize art to teach across all disciplines.”