Dusti Bongé plate design

Another side street of Dusti Bongé’s art production being explored as part of See Great Art’s partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation in Biloxi, MS. Dusti Bongé plate design.

Analysis, as always, comes from DBAF Executive Director Ligia M. Römer.

Dusti Bongé, Plate Design (Leaves and Radishes), c. 1939, pastel and pencil on paper, 8 1/2” x 11”

In the late 1930s Dusti Bongé sketched anything and everything, continually working on refining her drawing skills. During this time, in addition to her many representations of the bustling seafood industry and other cityscapes, she also produced still life studies of object in her house. She also created a unique series of “Plate Designs” inspired by artist workshops at Shearwater Pottery where they held weekly sessions to come up with interesting configurations to be used on their pottery. 

In Dusti’s case, some of those designs were of seabirds, crabs, boats, and various flora and fauna of the coast. These plate designs were often, by necessity, rather stylized given the challenge of depicting their subject matter in a circular or concentric arrangement. But she also did a series of much more modest plate designs that were literally of food items on a plate, such as these radishes.

These drawings are neither typical still lifes, nor the stylized pottery designs with their very intentional compositions. Instead, they exemplify a sense of looseness, and show that no subject matter was too insignificant for Dusti.

Each one of these plate designs offer a simple arrangement of lettuce leaves rimming a plate with another food item loosely placed at the center. The lettuce leaves always form a partial edge and never go full circle around the plate, thereby breaking up the relentlessness of the circle. There is always only one main food at the center, never a mix of foods. 

The various versions include this plate of radishes, plates of green beans, sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, celery sticks, pickles and a plate of sardines and one of sliced hard-boiled eggs (for some protein). Considering the range of veggies and other items it’s odd that there is not a composition that combines them. They certainly seem like items that would wind up in a salad together.

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