MARIA ISABEL BONILLA
Maria Isabel Bonilla was born in Cali, Colombia. This city is known for its lush tropical environment and a dynamic, vibrant Salsa music scene. From a very early age she displayed a keen interest in art, which would only strengthen as she grew older. Upon her high school graduation, she moved to Bogotá -Colombia’s capital- to pursue several degrees in fine art, design and illustration. In 2011 she moved to Billings to pursue yet another degree in Equestrian Studies and fell in love with Montana. She decided to stay to continue pursuing her two passions: art and horses.
She currently holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and a Minor in Design from Los Andes University, as well as a Certificate in Illustration for Children’s Literature from Jorge Tadeo Lozano University. Finally, she also holds and a Magna Cum Laude Bachelor’s in Equestrian Studies from Rocky Mountain College. In 2017, she founded Blue Jaguar Art, her personal studio. She lives in Billings, Montana is now actively participating in local Art Shows and Exhibitions, which included her debut at the prestigious Yellowstone Art Museum Art Auction in March of 2018. She is currently working as a freelancing artist, graphic designer, illustrator and equestrienne.
Her artwork is mainly influenced by an intense sense of nostalgia for her homeland. She finds inspiration in diverse elements like Precolumbian art, Salsa music, native flora and fauna and childhood memories. She considers her artwork “Tropical Surrealism with a hint of Salsa music” and favors a flashy, psychedelic aesthetic that combines traditional mediums like acrylics and watercolors with more unexpected materials like glitter, sequins and gemstones.
Ever since I can remember, I have always found the need to express myself constantly through images. Whether it was a quick doodle on a napkin or large-scale piece, the urge to create has always been present. I consider my style "Tropical Surrealism" and I find joy in creating intricate, lavish images where explosive color, bold lines and seductive shimmer play an essential role in mesmerizing the viewer. I find inspiration in many things, from exotic fauna and flora and the lush, boisterous environment of my homeland, to more unexpected sources like Colombian precolumbian designs, Western culture, salsa dancing aesthetics and contemporary comic art. There is always an urge to evolve and experiment as well, for the life of the artist is permanently in flux.