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Voyager Magazine Interview

Click the link below to read a 2021 interview of Denise ((bonaimo)) Sarram in Voyager Magazine:

Portrait of Denise (bonaimo) Sarram in Victorian attire. Photo by Barb Weins
Portrait of Denise (bonaimo) Sarram in Victorian attire. Photo by Barb Weins

Today we’d like to introduce you to Denise (Bonaimo) Sarram.

Hi Denise, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today? I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and on the New Jersey shore. I relocated to Southern California in 2001.

In 1994, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art degree specializing in metalsmithing/ jewelry making. In addition, I studied foundation art at Moore College of Art and Design (Philadelphia, PA) and spent an adventurous semester abroad traveling around Great Britain and taking college courses at Northumbria University (Newcastle Upon Tyne, England).

I’ve made a career of teaching, designing, creating and exhibiting my handcrafted jewelry and mixed media assemblages. I have extensive experience working with children, adults and senior citizens to facilitate artistic self-expression and exploration.

I also enjoy working with the vibrant local San Diego art community to foster an environment of creative enrichment, helping coordinate art shows and receptions.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road? Being an entrepreneur and having to wear all the hats to run a business is difficult. When all you want to do is make art, some of the other tasks become a burden. When I went to college, I was an art major. I never took any business classes, so there was a lot of on the job learning.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do? Focusing on jewelry design for many years, I have always approached it as “small scale sculpture” so making the shift towards larger scale sculptural assemblage art was a natural progression.

I bolt, drill, glue, collage, paint, sand, saw, mold, bend, sew, wire wrap and forge my raw materials to achieve a work of art that I believe to be masterfully crafted and aesthetically intriguing.

I work on multiple works of art simultaneously, using elements from my extensive collection of found objects which I curate from thrift stores, antique stores and resale shops. Throughout my entire career there has been a theme of upcycling- the process of converting waste materials or cast-away objects into something of intrinsic, aesthetic or practical value.

My works often combine vintage ephemera, fabrics, string and lace, gears, tools, antiqued metal, toys, kitchen items and other things that pique my interest. Basically, I see potential in vintage, antique or modern everyday objects to become part of the narrative I am trying to convey.

The theme of my most recent body of artwork orbits around my Sicilian family’s immigrant experiences in New York at the turn of the century and their journeys across the sea.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us? Art is therapy. While I struggle to meditate in a traditional sense, I can dive into the fabrication of an art project and it takes me to another place. Time passes more quickly when I’m making art, and in a way, time stands still. When I can focus on creating my art, a certain amount of “letting go” happens and that’s when it all flows. The process of making art is a pleasureful experience for me. And when I feel a piece is complete and I am proud that I made something beautiful or intriguing from a bunch of seemingly random, discarded, mundane objects- well, now that’s the good stuff!

I hope everyone can find that thing that makes them feel this way, and do it to your heart’s content.

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