Dusti Bongé seafood plate design

I’m loving these Dusti Bongé objects d’art! Iconically Gulf Coast by the Biloxi, MS artist. Southern. Homey.

Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia M. Römer provides the insight.

Dusti Bongé, Crab & Shrimp Plate Design, c. 1939, pastel on paper, 14” x 12”

Another one from the series of “Plate Designs” Dusti Bongé created. As I mentioned last week, Dusti’s designs varied in both content and compositional approach. This one offers us a seafood feast.

We have here a plate composition with a crab at the center surrounded by five large Gulf shrimp, another example of a centrally placed element with a repetitive rim design around it. This particular subject matter places her work right back home, expressing her inherent embrace of, and insight into, her local culture in all its forms.

Shrimp and crab are not only staples of the coastal diet, but a major part of the economic engine of Biloxi.

These unassuming crustaceans are indeed very important here, having put Biloxi on the map as a major seafood town for over a century. They were also a recurring favorite subject with the Anderson family, both in Walter Anderson’s watercolors and in many designs at Shearwater Pottery, along with some of the other quintessential coastal flora and fauna. 

Although Dusti willingly approached anything in her surroundings as a potential topic, she favored the architectural and spatial qualities of her surroundings, the seafood industry buildings and boats along the waterfront, the cemetery, and other local haunts. Her still lifes mostly featured her all-time favorite flower, the sunflower, and less so other coastal flora and fauna.

This makes this plate design that much more interesting, showing on the one hand that she was willing to explore such a ubiquitous home town subject matter, one embraced by many of her local peers, while also illustrating her skill at capturing the essence of these shellfish and arranging them in a lively decorative pattern.

Dusti’s rare depictions of local shellfish in some of her plate designs, are yet another expression of her deeply rooted sense of place, which would continue to be manifested in her work throughout her career.

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