Sonya Berg Menges, Baby Blanket: Cabin, 2016, collected and found photographs, archival tape, 41 x 31 in., courtesy of the artist

Presenting the work of three artists—Sonya Berg Menges, Michele BonDurant, and Britny Wainwright—who create colorful and rhythmic assemblages using such materials as found photographs, tape, ceramic, and vinyl to explore the boundaries of pattern and surface.

Made possible by The Co’s new membership group, The SHE Society, this exhibition is the second in a series of programs featuring female artists living and working in the Midwest who are breaking boundaries in contemporary art.


Curator's Statement

When I looked through submissions from The Contemporary’s last biennial call, the artwork of these three artists; Sonya Berg Menges, Michele BonDurant, and Britny Wainwright, made a clear connection for me. Each artist weaves content and form delicately, yet engages bold color and design to create rhythmic and vibrant work. The title of the exhibition, ‘Matter and Pattern,” references this binding thread of repetition and motif, but has also come to encompass the important role of gesture and collage.

The work of collage–taking apart and re-constructing into something new–can be a gesture in itself. The irregularities of edge and shape created by cutting painted paper plays into gestural abstraction in Michele BonDurant’s layered paintings. Relics of movement over surface are also present in Britny Wainwright’s drips of glaze on her ceramic sculptures. Sonya Berg Menges pushes additive and subtractive possibilities in her series’ of collaged and painted-over photographs.

Each artist manipulates and reassembles materials to suit their own concepts. What ties each together are bodies of work that both stretch through and circle inwardly explorations of environment, pattern, and surface.

I want to thank each artist for their participation, and for Eva, Patrick, and the fantastic Contemporary staff for all they do to advance the arts in our community.


Tess Cortés



Events & Programs

Opening Reception

February 27, 2020

6-8 p.m.

Free and open to the public

Art on High

Artmaking, Critique & Reception

February 29, 2020

12-7:30 p.m. | $10 

Stratacache Tower

Co-hosted by Terry Welker and the Dayton Urban Sketchers

Gallery Talk & Reception

March 6, 2020

6-8 p.m. 

Curator-in-Residence Tess Cortés leads a walk-through of the exhibition with the artists.

Free and open to the public

About the Artists

Untitled (Green), 2013, mixed media on paper, 5.25 x 4.5 in., courtesy of the artist

Sonya Berg Menges

Austin, Texas | 

Sonya Berg Menges received an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, Texas, and BA in Studio from Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. She regularly exhibits in group and solo shows around the country, including Women & Their Work Gallery and Big Medium’s West Austin Studio Tour (WEST), in Austin, Texas. 


“My recent [collage] work is a combination of photography and paint to create alluring but disruptive visual space. Abstracted windows of color and space develop from a loss of context. Visual splits, juxtaposed depth and flatness, and a combination of recognizable space and abstraction invoke curiosity and confusion in the physical manipulation of the reference image.

My latest work is a series of decorative quilts made from my collection of film photo prints saved from the past 20 years. These photo quilts, all in the size you would gift a new baby, are about letting go of what we hold dear while simultaneously pointing towards a future hope. These pieces bring the old photographs into a new order and physical meaning as a quilt, and they point towards the hope and in new life.”

Orange Fishing Huts Night, 2019, gouache, flashe, glitter, paper, yupo, 22 x 30 in., courtesy of the artist

Michele BonDurant

Dayton |

Michele BonDurant is a painter based in Dayton, Ohio. She received a BFA from Wright State University and has studied with Lois Dodd, Elizabeth O’Reilly, and Jean Koeller. She held residencies at Zygote Press in Cleveland, Vermont Studio Center, Vermont, and was invited to the Heliker La Hoten Foundation, Cranberry Island, Maine. BonDurant’s works have been exhibited nationally including the Prince Street Gallery and First Street Gallery in NYC, The Maryland Federation of Art Circle Gallery, The Riffe Gallery, Columbus, Ohio, the Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries, Wright State University, and Dutoit Gallery, Dayton, Ohio. 


“As a landscape painter, I am interested in the pictorial and elucidative potential of buildings that are undistinguished and overlooked. Garages, vacation cottages, ice fishing huts, etc…are all part of the contemporary landscape. These subjects are rich with visual and conceptual possibilities.

I initially work from observation, indoors from landscapes I build and outdoors from what I observe using oil paint or painted, cut paper. Painting from observation strips the buildings down to their elemental form. Layering in cut paper shapes lends itself to the same calculated process. 

Harmonizing with these observed paintings are investigative and instinctive explorations with cut paper in the studio. While making these paper paintings I use a combination of observation, memory and invention. The two practices complement and inform each other, each approach bringing unique qualities to the work.

Divesting myself of limiting preconceptions is a necessary condition of creating these paintings. The challenge is to translate visual information into paintings that speak of their own making as both image and object.“

Oranges, 2018, canvas, latex paint, terra-cotta, thread, 30 x 35 x 1 in., courtesy of the artist

Britny Wainwright

Columbus |

Britny earned an MFA in ceramics from Ohio State University, and a BFA from Alfred University in New York. She was born and raised in upstate New York, and now teaches and maintains a studio practice in Columbus, Ohio. Her work was recently exhibited at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, and is currently traveling the country with the exhibition, “The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art.” Britny has shown work at the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, CT, The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC, and The “X Space” Gallery in Columbus, OH among others. She held residencies at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs, NY, and The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA.


“I employ repetitive pattern in search of fullness and satisfaction. I borrow and digest floral prints from domestic space, textiles and wallpaper, to develop my own marks to engage with issues around gender. I challenge the possibilities of decoration in the gallery, finding it necessary to articulate my experience as a woman. Rethinking the hierarchy of form and ornament, I am assertive with floral motifs, demanding that surface and pattern drive my work.

Clay’s memory follows my hands and tools throughout the process, accruing echoes of engagements with the object. I describe the surface of a form by brushing color across planes, nudging drips to submit to gravity, and allowing chemistry to take hold during kiln firing. Through brushstrokes, gestures, and repetition I meld the decorative with the language of painting. Every layer applied allows me to redefine, reinforce, or deceive the form, thereby changing how the object is understood.“