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Shadow on Concrete Wall



Modeling People:

the art of

Dalva Bonfim

Kithi photo

on 07-19-2020

"People are very good / People must be good / You have to take care of yourself / You have to respect the good" (Caetano Veloso)

Modeling people is Dalva Bonfim's craft, so it is with clay and with people who enjoy their courses and the sacred space of his Atelier Terra Cozida.


For various reasons, everything the artist does seems easy, but modeling clay and modeling people, special or not, are tasks that require techniques and studies in different areas of knowledge from the artist.

Dalva hides nothing. It's all in the open. It offers the jump of the cat for you to learn to mold the clay and at the same time to mold yourself, through the discoveries that art and modeling allow.


Dalva's journey as an artist is long. She started well before graduating in Licenciatura, Design e Plástica from the School of Fine Arts of the Federal University of Bahia in the 1980s. Accompanying her mother's work during childhood, a construction worker, the seed that flourished for years was planted later, in his maturity.

The artist's main field of activity, modeling clay, is an area as little recognized and as little valued in Brazil, especially in the Northeast, as her mother's worker activity.

Our heritage of cooking the land comes from indigenous peoples, where the work was done primarily by women. With colonization, work with clay started to be marginalized, after all it was an activity done by indigenous or black women to meet the needs of other women, of the same origin, who were in the kitchens. Thus, the place of ceramics has always been that of marginality or utilitarian art .


To this day, in many municipalities, the space reserved for the sale of ceramics is at the end of the fair, where only those with business to go will go.

And there is another aggravating factor, since it is an activity carried out by women to meet the demand of other women, who almost never had money on hand, pottery was very cheap, almost an act of solidarity.

Consequently, ceramics in Brazil cannot reach the dimension of importance that is given in other countries such as England.

And perhaps, because she had to face so many difficulties to achieve and live from what she most liked to do, model clay, Dalva closed herself to art for a while and devoted herself to other activities, but in her soul the desire to return to the land. And came back. In the late 90's he reopened his studio and started working.


Photos taken from Ateliê Terra Cozida's Facebook

It was at Ateliê Terra Cozida that Dalva found her soul's journey. The love for his special students transformed his life, his art, his way of seeing, understanding and living this world. Made it special.

Initially, when she opened the Ateliê, she wanted to project her work as an artist but did not know exactly how to do it and what to do it for, that was when the first special student knocked on her door. Dalva had never imagined working with this audience, but as it is her own personality to welcome those looking for her with open arms, she accepted the challenge.

And even without knowing for sure what to do, Dalva tried to understand the needs of the student who was progressing, despite the limitations, and soon another one arrived, another, another one ... "suddenly there was a group that worked and improved together" says the artist.

Photos taken from Facebook of Ateliê Terra Cozida


Cássia, 15 years at Ateliê

Tadeu, 11 years of partnership


Melina, 16 years of companionship

Vanessa and her persistence

Armed with doubts, Dalva wanted to understand the process that had been involved without looking for it, so she began to question the movement she started to live: what is the relationship between these people and clay, was it the material that transformed people? Or was it the methodology she was applying by intuition? Or was it both, the clay and the methodology? And why was she involved in this work that she had no experience at all?

And to understand the movements of herself and the other, the artist decided to take the Postgraduate Course in Neuropsychology at the Metropolitan Faculty of Curitiba, which she needed to create her own, differentiated and special methodology using clay as an element of transformation and social inclusion for groups of students with neurological disorders, changing the participants' cognitive development and socialization.


Putting it all together: with patience, dedication and support from the families Dalva teaches her students to model, paint and be responsible for their lives, giving them space and confidence with each achievement. So, Tadeu opens the studio, everyone earns their money from the annual production that is sold at the fairs before Christmas, like Made in Bahia, and to participate in the fair you need to be responsible for your production, meeting schedules and doing everything with dedication and care.

To build the methodology Dalva did a thorough job, I would say anthropological. For each student a diary where the artist writes everything that goes on in the smallest details, including observations, which is her reflection for each situation.


I was able to experience the reading of the diary that she made of my daughter Sophia, who, although not being special in the neurological sense, studied a period with Dalva when she was little. I wanted to show her that we are all equal and capable. An experience whose result is visible now in your teens.

"I wish, at least once, that the simplest was seen as the most important" (excerpt from the song Índios de Renato Russo that you can listen to by clicking the button below)

And with the simplicity of wise women Dalva teaches complex techniques and for each student she has a message. Regardless of the situation, the eyes see everything. Below are some of the artist's public statements.

"Congratulations Cássia !!! The challenge was great! With you I went to the fight to change your history and without counting how many steps would be necessary to walk, we walked together. And thirsty to learn, you changed your life trajectory! With you I learned, that love makes us strong and what seems difficult is so easy !!! "

"Congratulations Melina !!! My companion from all these years !!! A gift, a box of surprises, ready to learn. And in a continuous effort it only grows, grows more and more !!! And today, it surprises me, with its size progress, with your interaction with family, friends and the world !!! "

" Congratulations Vanessa !!! Your persistence, your willpower without limits, can take you wherever you want !!!

"After 6 years, in continuous work, where the family's persistence with the techniques of Ateliê Terra Cozida, here comes the capable individual! Tadeu !!! You made it !!! Partner, collaborator, friend !!!"

And in addition to Atelier Dalva, he built partnerships with plastic artists, with entrepreneurs, with admirers and declares for everyone, without which, the achievements would be impossible: "Congratulations to all capable students, artists who improve their work in our space. For whom went to the fair and bought our products and took home our vibrant energy of claw, life and love !!! Congratulations Vera Pontes, from the Made in Bahia Fair, for believing and betting on us !!! big difference in this society !!!! May this opportunity that is entrusted to us every year, never bring you disappointment! "

And I am one of those visual artists that I learn from Dalva, now in the pandemic, she offers online classes. I did it, it’s wonderful, check out the Assum Preto Magazine Instagram video that we made from that moment and the final result.

The Art of Dalva Bonfim


Photos provided by the artist

People is the subject that draws the attention of ceramist Dalva Bonfim's imagination. From sculptures inspired by human figures to the work of art therapy with special students, the artist learned the art of "modeling people" in various dimensions.


His sculptures deal with the human body in its most varied forms and expressions, especially when people are working. The workers are exalted for it. Sometimes they are opposite other elements as in the Risco project, which brings white blocks as a resource that excites thinking for daily conflict.

Within this environment Dalva outlines a concept around his work, bringing the risk of the worker's activity to be felt by the viewer. The effort, the search, the climbing and the positions of his sculptures instigates the recognition of this universe that is little valued by society, but at the same time putting it in the place of value, without which nothing would be built.


Kithi Pictures

When asked by a teacher about the fascination with the workers, Dalva realized that they represented childhood alongside her mother, a woman who spent her entire life building and renovating houses. A construction worker.

"Small terracotta sculptures, remember the minority, in the smallness of these beings, within a society where risk is a fact, in an expanded space. The eminence of danger, destruction, fall, fragility, is constant in everyday life. small sculptures seem to obey a single order, to conquer their space " (Giovana Dantas)


Kithi photo

Dalva's work occupies a different place, it does not belong to the Design chain that points and values ceramics as a utilitarian art, nor does it belong to the primitive art of its ancestors in modeling, but rather, it occupies a place within the visual arts that it tensions and imposes on the viewer an instigating dialogue about everyday conflicts, changing the perception of the possibilities of clay .... and as Matilde Matos, Art Critic says, "the corporal expression of Dalva Bonfim's figures ensures the concept of the installation, which it doesn't need text to be understood ".

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