This look into the art and life of Dusti Bongé reveals details of the death of her husband, Archie. He was only 35 when he passed due to illness in 1936. The couple had been married eight years and she was 33. She never remarried.
Analysis of the artworks, as always, comes via Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia M. Römer.
United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company Yearbook – April 15 and April 17, c. 1940, pencil on paper, 8” x 5 ½”
This year’s Women’s History theme “Women Who Tell Our Stories,” may well fit with our larger theme of keeping a sketchbook or notebook at hand to record one’s surroundings, thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Such sketchbooks are inherently telling a story even if not consciously so. They are a spontaneous record of where you were, what intrigued you, your mood, and what you saw. As such they tend to reflect a particular time in one’s life.
Dusti Bongé’s sketchbooks do just that, they are bits and pieces of her story. In her case her early sketchbooks are particularly poignant, as she sketched her everyday surroundings in them. Thus, we can see the time she spent at the harbor, or at home, or at the cemetery near her home. She sketched all of these moments throughout the pages of her books.
Here we have several sketches of one of her visits to the cemetery where she must have spent time in quiet contemplation. It was where her husband Archie was buried. The loss of Arch at such a young age was of course a life altering event.
As such these sketches have layers of stories in them. On the one hand they tell a very personal story of a period in her life, on the other hand they tell about a moment in her daily routine. But they also tell the story of a specific time period in a unique place in Biloxi. And looking back they tell the story of Dusti’s artistic development and career, which was in large part propelled by her great loss.