A closer look: Dusti Bongé sketches

We debuted our partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation last week looking at two knockout self-portraits. This week, we have the pleasure of learning about two Dusti Bongé sketches.

Dusty Bongé became one of my favorite artists when I first came across her work in 2019 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. She was a revelation to me! Dusti Bongé’s artwork taught me valuable lessons about how incomplete the art canon is, how prejudiced it has been against female and Southern artists, and how much more I have to learn and see.

The Dusti Bongé Art Foundation offices are located in Biloxi, MS and open to visitors for discovery.

Each week, See Great Art will share one of Bongé’s artworks with analysis of the piece from Ligia Römer, PhD, Executive Director at the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation.

Dusti Bongé sketches

Dusti Bongé, Untitled (Cemetery sketches), 1991, charcoal on paper, 9" x 7”, United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company datebook.
Dusti Bongé, Untitled (Cemetery sketches), 1991, charcoal on paper, 9" x 7”, United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company datebook.

Text by Ligia Römer:

Untitled (Cemetery sketches), 1991, charcoal on paper, 9x 7,” United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company datebook.

One of the fascinating ways to get a glimpse into an artist’s creative thinking is by looking through their sketchbooks. Sketchbooks are where artists record their “thoughts” on paper. They show the curiosity of an artist, their determination to capture a visual stimulus, their never ending quest to find new ways of seeing, representing, and expressing.

Dusti Bongé used sketchbooks throughout her entire career, from the beginning years when she depicted her surroundings, to her late abstract years, when she continued to explore colors, forms and compositions. She always carried one with her. 

At times any notebook, datebook or diary would do, given that artists’ sketchbooks can be quite pricey. Dusti used several of these, including this United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company datebook from the 1940s. Here she did quick sketches recording things as varied as her impressions of Biloxi scenes, circus visits, still lifes in her home, and so on. 

One of the most special places she visited and sketched often was the cemetery, where her husband was laid to rest. It was a place of solace and contemplation, in contrast to the busy waterfront scenes she often drew. And yet, it also offered her a rich visual display that she captured from varying angles over the course of multiple visits. Herewith two images of one view that she sketched several times in a row.   

When you visit Dusti Bongé’s “Piercing the Inner Wall” exhibit at The Mississippi Museum of Art, you will see a painting of the cemetery hanging amongst the early work.

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