New Exhibit Featuring Paintings by Jessica Bonin

Posted on: Thursday, March 13, 2014 - 11:54am

Some people are first drawn to Western because of Bellingham, others are often attracted to Bellingham because of Western, and then there are those of us who originally came here for a combination of both reasons. Whatever your own reason may be, one thing is for sure, if you are part of this community, you will more than likely encounter people in your daily life who have a connection to Western, be it as alumni, retirees, staff, faculty, or current students.

Artist and Western alumna Jessica Lynn Bonin explains that she has always felt a strong connection to Bellingham, and that she feels her college experience at Western was part of that connection. Bonin graduated from Western a decade ago with a B.A. in painting. She now lives in the unique little town of Edison, Washington, where she creates art and co-manages a shop called The Lucky Dumpster, which features handmade goods from other local crafters and artists.

Currently, Bonin is exhibiting some of the illustrations she created for the book, A Commonplace Book of Pie, in Western Libraries Special Collections. Her illustrations, which will remain on display through early April, were created as part of a collaborative project with the book’s author, writer and Western alumna, Kate Lebo.

“Kate and I met five or so years ago when she was passing through my shop in Edison.  We hit it off right away and realized we had led parallel lives, growing up in the same hometown and both being graduates of WWU at the same time, with overlapping friend circles and similar sensibilities in life and with our art. The collaboration on Kate's book was a natural evolution of our friendship,” explains Bonin.

Bonin’s watercolor illustrations originated from an afternoon that Bonin spent at Lebo’s house in Ballard, where Bonin photographed each step in the process of Lebo making a pie, and it was on the basis of these photographs that Bonin later created her paintings.  

“The paintings were done in a linear fashion, telling the story of making a pie from beginning to end, using Kate's hands and kitchen ephemera. There are 27 illustrations in total, and the exhibit at WWU Special Collections is just a portion. Paul Brower and I curated this selection based on groupings that made conceptual and aesthetic sense, since we had limited space,” says Bonin.

Bonin’s selection of watercolor illustrations will be available for viewing in Special Collections through early April. After the exhibit closes here, the entire series of water colors will then be on display and for sale at the Edison Eye Gallery with a reception held on April 19, 2014.

For more information about the exhibit in Special Collections, contact To learn more about artist Jessica Bonin, please see her website at

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