Grief Bonnets

work by Allison Honeycutt

On view August 5 - September 8

Allison Honeycutt is a fine artist based in Los Angeles, California.She graduated from NSCAD University with a BFA  as well as a Post-Baccalaureate in studio art from Maharishi University in her home town of Fairfield, Iowa.

Allison works in a variety of media most notably works on paper, fiber sculpture and installation. Her work is defined by taking pleasure in the imperfect; raw edges, tactility, a measure of levity and of the absurd.

Working with fabric is a wonderful way to play with form and emptiness simultaneously and when creating wearable art you have the opportunity to fill your piece and let it move, or let it live as only an object like a discarded shell, beautiful and empty but telling the story of a life lived inside of it. 

Origin Story of the Grief Bonnets:

    The first Grief Bonnet was one that I purchased on my way to the memorial service for my husband. I found it at the Lincoln Homestead State Park gift shop, and to me it was the perfect symbol of trying to experience grief while simultaneously trying to move through one's public life.

     I grew up and lived in a fairly small town in Southeastern Iowa. The best AND worst thing about this is that, when you walk through town, do your errands, shopping, go to work, etc.  you are constantly running into people who know you and who you know ( sometimes these are not the same people). Folks in small towns have less boundaries than folks in big cities, they’ve seen you grow up, or simply have seen you around and know your name and it gives a feeling of closeness and familiarity whether that feeling is mutual or even true. I couldn’t leave my house without someone coming up to console me, give me a sad  glance, or worst of all trap me in a one sided conversation about all the people they have known who have died the way my husband did and how terrible it was. Because of this I learned 2 main things: 

  1. Everyone grieves differently (some people really appreciate public consoling and engagement about their departed loved one, I do not). 

  2. People in our society have no idea how to deal with the grief of someone else, let alone their personal grief.

So I started wearing my bonnet on the days when I had to go into town and I was barely holding it together and had no more energy left to engage in any sort of acknowledgement that someone I loved dearly had died. And it worked. The bonnet shielded me from making any accidental eye contact, my close friends knew if they saw me in my Grief Bonnet I needed my space, and everyone else probably just thought it was a bit weird and left me alone.

     I started making my own Grief Bonnets as part of my art practice quite recently in order to mull over this ever changing experience of grieving*, as well as to give form to this symbol of safety, protection, personal boundaries, an individual needs. I think a lot about how we grieve and how little we are taught about grieving until the death of a loved one is thrust upon us, and how lonely that can be. I now live in a large city and I no longer need my Grief Bonnet because city folks tend to keep to themselves more,  it is rare to run into someone you know unexpectedly, and I get overwhelmed by my grief much less than I used to. Although, since I have started to make the Grief Bonnets I have on occasion put them on in the privacy of my home and sat with the feeling of grief and felt safe and protected in my home-made prairie hat.

* another thing I learned is, “moving on” does not have a timeline and honestly isn’t even a real thing… you just learn to live with your grief in different, hopefully less painful, ways.

For inquiries and sales, please contact

Hilary Nelson, Gallery Curator at TIMESCLUBGALLERY@PRAIRIELIGHTS.COM

Please join us for a reception with the artist on Saturday September 7th in the cafe from 5pm - 7pm.