Rahr-West Art Museum spotlights LaBonte's street art

Posted On July 11, 2014

UNDERGRAD_Erin-LaBonte-HeadshotPhotographs of a unique form of street art will be exhibited at the Rahr-West Art Museum, 610 N. Eighth St., from July 20 through Aug. 10.

“Chameleon” is being presented by Erin LaBonte, an assistant art professor at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc. An artist reception is scheduled for July 29 from 5 to 6 p.m. The free exhibit will showcase about a dozen photographs of her work, as well as a video.

The street art and photographs of it were produced by LaBonte during a trip to Mexico. Unsatisfied with the tourist’s role as spectator, LaBonte and her collaborator, Ellen Dizzia of Geneva, N.Y., actively became part of the architecture. They were inspired by the country’s colorful walls and murals, and a conversation developed about LaBonte painting Dizzia onto those very walls as she stood next to them.

The paintings were created in the cities of San Miguel de Allende and Sayulita. The ephemeral nature of the work left the photograph as the final image. Tourists and locals, including police officers, became active participants in the performance of painting.

“The beauty of this work is its intuitiveness,” LaBonte said. “By creating art in unexpected places we started a lot of conversations and met a lot of new people, some of whom were simply walking home from work. We changed their day to day. The experience of creating the work was as rewarding as the final product.”


LaBonte won the opportunity to exhibit her work by being chosen as the Best in Show for Mainly Manitowoc’s ArtSPLASH.

LaBonte received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and her master’s degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. She has participated in artistic residencies and exhibitions both nationally and internationally.

“Art does not need to last forever,” LaBonte said. “Art does not need to be in a museum context. Art is participatory. Art is the relationship between viewer and artist. Art is best when it is active. Art can be used to bridge communities and create new understandings and appreciation of individuality.”

Rahr-West Art Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.