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By: Cindy Silvert


Once upon a time, there was a woman with an innate sense of self worth. No really, it’s a true story. Unburdened by a baggage-laden parent-sponsored higher education, she began her professional life at a place that is unheard of these days: the bottom. While working her way through school, our hero, Bonnie Shanas, worked the garden variety of jobs eventually landing the position of secretary at a high end hotel chain. After twelve long months of playing nice and pretending to be a secretary while actually managing everyone else’s accounts and headaches, she strolled into her boss’ office and declared that the gig was up. She would no longer do everyone else’s work while they claimed credit. At which point, in true fairytale fashion, her boss said: “OK. What title do you want, and how much do you want to make?”

Now only try this if you mean it folks. This woman was ready to walk because she believed in her skill set, competence, and the concept of fair play. Bonnie got both the title and raise she requested. Following six rewarding years in the hotel world, she reinvented herself and became a purchasing manager in the pharmaceutical industry. Did she grow up and run a Fortune 500 company? Did The Donald choose Bonnie to be The Apprentice? Don’t put it past her, but instead, after carving a successful career in the business world Bonnie decided to pack up her inner number cruncher and take the right side of her brain for a spin.

The very next day, Bonnie picked up the phone and found herself in an exclusive class with a well known Israeli wire mesh sculptor (description of wire mesh sculpture below). Verbal lashings from her teacher suggested to Bonnie that maybe she was onto something. In 2009, Bonnie and her family relocated from Israel to New Jersey. Her teacher’s parting words were: “You have a lot of work to do.” So work she did.

In January 2010, Bonnie submitted her first piece into a juried exhibit in Yonkers, NY. Her first show followed shortly after, at the Knapp Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. Since that time she’s been in twenty seven shows in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Her striking pieces have won “Best in Sculpture,” “Best in Show”, and “Award of Excellence” in addition to notable critical acclaim. According to one New York reviewer; “Bonnie Shanas imparts to this industrial material a classical quality, with her reliefs featuring exquisitely formed nude male and female bodies melded in intimate embrace. Just as anatomical fragments from antiquity take on eternal life, Shanas makes faceless torsos radiate sensuality, as seen in “For All We Know”, where
the perfect bodies of the facing couple suggest the romantic urgency of the song for which the piece was named.”

Wondering what wire mesh sculpture actually is? It’s the manipulation of, you guessed it, wire mesh, which is a sturdier version of the stuff that keeps mosquitoes out. While Bonnie’s figurative sculptures don’t keep the bugs at bay, they do catch your breath. Somehow, she shapes magnificent human forms out of an otherwise cold, industrial material. Audiences are dumbstruck by the intricacies and beauty that she creates. They stop and stare and come up with all kinds of theories as to how she does it.

You can go to her website to get an idea of what she does, but nothing compares to seeing her work in person. You can see her work in an invitational show at the New Century Gallery in Chelsea, 530 West 25th Street, Manhattan, NY. The show runs from August 29th to September 17th.

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