Bonnie MacAllister


nearly 34 in September


Doylestown, PA

currently resides:

Philadelphia, PA


I render multimedia imagery through analog sound, super 8, film, video, photography, performance art, book arts, zine creations, oil painting, spray paint, and others. My travel and figure drawing sketches are watercolor, pencil, pen, and ink.  I craft poems that form the soundtracks for the visuals, either moving or still.

what is your studio like?

I live in a West Philly historic house (1858) which was not built with closets.  My studio is supposed to be the back bedroom but has overflowed into the living room and the backyard.  I’ve been in France for the last few weeks so everything is overgrown.


artist hero:

I’m extremely indebted to Agnès Varda with whom I was able to study during a 1997-1998 year at the Sorbonne and Paris VIII.  She was the third of a rock star line up of mentors (also Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous.)   Agnès lives on the Avenue Denfert-Rochereau which I recently revisited after 13 years.  I cannot dissociate her from the neighborhood.   She does wild installations,  interior and exterior, and her films play with text and time in an often delightfully non-linear format.  I’ll never forget her eyes when she showed us this one artists’s film of a yorkie being devoured by the metro escaliers, and I cannot describe the glee we felt at sharing this forbidden moment on the pellicule.  Her most recent film was The Beaches of Agnès, a confession in waves of her personal history carved out in beachside sculptures of mirrors, self-reflexive as an irregular verb.  My favorite will always be Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962), Corinne Marchand’s performance grafts real time with the two nervous hours before she claims her biopsy results.

if u could change one thing about the art world what would it be?

As an officer of the Young Women’s Caucus, an internal caucus of the National Women’s Caucus for Art, we have a campaign, “What Women Want,” and I’ve been chosen to be Performance Chair for the National Convention in February.  We will change one thing about the art world by creating a performance expressing these wants and needs:  equitable access to juried shows, funding, grant opportunities, fellowships, exhibition space, museum acquisition.  To deliver the message for change through the vehicle of performance can only be a catalyst for reform.

whats your dream project?

My dream project would be to be continuing the same types of projects I am currently involved in but to be self-sustaining without the day job.  I suppose a year of writing on a fellowship in a climate much like the rainy season in Ethiopia or a morning in Scotland on the Isle of Skye.

what else are u working on?

I’m staging my second play with Green Light Arts as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.  It’s called “Crowning the May Queen” and will be staged at the Old Pine Community Center from September 10-12, 17th and 18. Four fifteen minute pieces comprise “The Waiting Room” which will be a Judy Chicago/ Miriam Shapiro “Womanhouse” style installation featuring live arts performances from Green Light Arts actors.  I will participate in the Women’s Caucus for Art Philadelphia Chapter’s installation of chairs, “Show me to my Seat!” These chairs also form the set for “The Waiting Room.”

“Crowning the May Queen” features three women actors:  an aging singer, a woman afflicted with fistula, and a doctor in a avant-pop construction of text, verse, and confessional. “Crowning the May Queen” as part of “The Waiting Room” (Green Light Arts) features TS Hawkins, Kelly DeVose, Carla Emmanuel, Directed by Ashley Kerns & Written by Bonnie MacAllister (runs Sept 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 at 7 p.m.) This performance is part of the Philadelphia Live Arts and Fringe Festival. Segments will be performed as part of the Monday Night Club Fringe Cabaret, August 23 @National Mechanics (Hosted by A.D. Amorosi and John Cecil Price)

forthcoming shows:

Currently I have work in the Women’s Caucus for Art San Diego chapter exhibition,”Going Green” (

The Community Cultural Exchange show at Eris Temple Artspace  features photographs from Ethiopia from “Women and Children in Ethiopia,” my coffee table book.

During November, I will have several pieces in “Exploring New Dimensions” curated by the WCA/DC at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center Gallery, 40 South Carroll Street, Frederick, MD.

I have an upcoming two month solo exhibition at Germ in December, “Coptic:  Ethiopian Mysticism, ” featuring images from my 2009 Fulbright-Hays fellowship.  The December opening will feature an Ethiopian coffee ceremony and launch the exhibition catalogue.   In January, we will debut my latest book of poetry.


favorite gallery:

Oooh, I prefer not to play favorites.  As a member of the Plastic Club, 247 South Camac Street, I have the opportunity to take figure drawing classes and show work often in members’ exhibitions on three floors.  Frequently I perform at the Eris Temple Artspace, 602 S. Cedar Street.  I enjoy Frankford Avenue first Fridays at Highwire Gallery and Germ’s Jennifer Bates Memorial Gallery, and I’ve performed at both venues.  I’ve sold a painting at Highwire in a group show, and I remember its previous locations fondly.   I have an upcoming two month exhibition at Germ in December, “Coptic:  Ethiopian Mysticism, ” featuring images from my 2009 Fulbright-Hays fellowship.

shamelessly addicted to:

Since I just spent July in France, these things are all recent addictions: cornichons, apricots, uncooked cranberries, salty butter, fish soups, sandwich au thon with egg and mayonnaise, confiture without too much sugar, and really wonderful bread.

worst nightmare:

I had this terrible nightmare that my sister and I were cooking my mother on the stove.  She’d been disassembled, and she was still talking to us.  The goriest, most vivid dream I’ve ever had!

favorite fictional character:

I love nearly every character on that show British Shameless, especially Frank and Debbie Gallagher. Frank is a drunk and a mess, and Debbie is his klepto daughter who picks up the pieces. I’ve thought about purchasing a region 2 DVD player just so I can keep up with the series.

favorite shakespeare character: Macbeth because he’s a conflicted Scotsman.  I can relate.

theme song:

Long ago, we made a band and we called it Artaud’s Theme Song (after this obese tuxedo cat I had in my twenties who died of liver failure).  We tried to call it Scopitones after those old French jukes where if you projected the films largescale,  you ended up with a lewd, shifty man with a foot twitch and a pervy eyebrow.  My theme song remains a mix of pirate shanties, Wurlitzer noise, a ukelele rendition about thrifted children’s toys, and the sweet sad song of a gamin-man named Matthias who died way too young of a gaybashing.

what are u currently listening to?

My recent fellowship in France renewed my interest in French sound bites, but it’s a visual track that I’m generally following.   I’m usually making it up as I go along.


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