bonnie ralston

I am a Brooklyn, NY-based artist who explores personal and universal themes of identity and transformation through ceramic sculpture and experimental works on paper.

Formal careers in design and ecological teaching and learning inform my artistic approach and subject matter. The natural sciences provide inspiration and departure points for my work through exploration of topics as varied as invertebrate metamorphosis and geologic time. What drives me to keep creating is the promise of discovery—what happens after an idea/approach is pushed to the point of breaking.

My ceramic work begins as stoneware slabs that are manipulated by hand. I leave the awkward joins, cracks, and scarring untouched—artifacts of the construction process and of the compromises made between artist and material. With paper, I explore the mark-making possibilities of found metal, experimenting with common solutions as both corrosives and catalysts. While the medium is different, the approach to creating art is the same—one of experimentation and partnership.

My work has been included in juried exhibitions nationwide, and was the focus of 2019 solo show at Three Rivers Gallery in Connecticut. I am currently preparing for a March 2022 solo exhibition with Manifest Gallery in Ohio. My work is in private collections in Connecticut and New York.


I worked for 15 years as a print and exhibition designer and was employed by notable NYC institutions including The Museum of Modern Art and Ralph Appelbaum Associates. In 2009, I left my city and my profession to follow the white blazes for 1,685 miles on the Appalachian Trail. I continued on that path upon returning to NYC, trading my Schaedler Precision Rules for Peterson's Field Guides and embarking on a career in environmental education. Practical experience with NYSDEC, Audubon NY, and others--coupled with a MS in Ecological Teaching and Learning--prepared me for my current role supporting teaching and learning efforts in urban parks.

In 2020, with two artist friends, I founded the artist-run event collective Gowanus Night Heron. Based in Brooklyn, Gowanus Night Heron provides local artists with unique, place-based opportunities to share their work and give back to the community. Gowanus Night Heron held its first two events in 2021, and to date has featured the work of 35 area artists and shared a portion of sales with local non-profits Arts Gowanus and Gowanus Mutual Aid.

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