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project & artist statement

A personal view of UB2 as an art project from our owner, founder & creative director, Colette Palamar...

The Urban Baby Bonnet project is a worldwide sculptural installation. As a painter, I am entranced by color.  Its richness and saturation tantalizes me. The idea of this project is to spread Urban Baby Bonnets all over the world; the goal is to make small, but brightly visible contributions of color to a world that is ever darker and more gray as the monotony of corporate hegemony fogs our lives. Each bonnet is a unique combination of fabrics on the form of a sleek and modernized version of the traditional baby bonnet. The Urban Baby Bonnet Project takes art out of the gallery and into people's everyday lives. Because the project is available and open to the public 365 days a year, people can (in their own time) take a bit of art and enjoy its color and form as they live their lives.  Using my e-commerce site and real-life as my gallery, the UB2 Project brings color into our average everydayness.

UB2 launched through etsy, an online marketplace for handmade goods. I chose etsy as the initial and primary space for this work because the virtual, global environments that communication technologies can create fascinate me.  I immediately loved the passionate and handmade focus of etsy. Through the internet (and by using it as one of the media in this project) my work becomes globally accessible.  I am also interested in the marriage between art and commerce; the fine arts are usually too expensive for the average person to afford or relegated to the realm of “amateur” or “craft.”  Rarely are there fine art exhibits or projects displaying works that can be purchased by the average person.  My unique bonnet design and careful fabric combinations evidence my passion for color in analogous and complementary palettes. 

Because my works are affordable and are available through traditional commerce networks, this project pushes the boundary between installation and commerce.  When does art become commodity?  Can the commodification of art happen without artistic sacrifice?  With the world as my canvas, painting with bonnets will wrestle these questions continuously the project expands.  Because my work exists within a world of commodities, it is seen and enjoyed by many more people than would be impacted in the relatively sterile spaces of a traditional fine art gallery.  Because the success of this project will be measured ultimately by the dose of carefully considered color I am able to spread in the world, the exposure allowed through e-commerce is paramount.

Although I do not intend the bonnets to be objects of “fashion” but rather intend them to be living collages of color, I find that my work treads a line between fashion and fine art.  Where is that line?  How can we know when an object has crossed from one category to the next? When a formally trained artist and self-taught (but widely exhibited) painter turns to mixed media/fiber as her medium and chooses everyday life as her canvas, how are we to categorize what is created?  I’ve always been intrigued by the way Andy Warhol appropriated commercial forms and brought them into the world of the arts.  This project takes objects from the art world and democratizes them via commercial exposure.

Finally, this project also has a more personal, documentary dimension.  My daughter was born in 2007, and the Urban Baby Bonnet project evolved from what happens when the artistic drive to create meets the constraints of motherhood. From her photographs in the very first-ever Urban Baby Bonnet, to the picture of her with her finger in her mouth teething, to photos of her as a toddler model, the photos used in the documentation of the project also document her changes and development.  Because this project is a long-term installation, it will continue to record her growth as she slips away from infancy.

In the midst of the rigorous conceptual nature of this project, my deepest hope is that the lives of individuals who take part in the project by purchasing or trading for an Urban Baby Bonnet (or those who receive a donated one) will be brightened by my work. When the Project was still less than a year old, UB2 bonnets could be found in Sweden, Norway, Germany, Italy, France, Singapore, United Kingdom, Spain, South Korea, New Zealand, Crete, Australia, Canada, and the United States.  Celebrate color!

To participate in the project, you'll need to purchase, trade for, or receive a donated Urban Baby Bonnet.  You then need to have your child wear the bonnet! 

I'd love to have a picture of your little one spreading color around the world!

--Colette Palamar