Bunny with a Toolbelt is the alter ego of Portland artist Hilary Pfeifer, who has been quietly building her small army of critters for the past few decades. The business name evolved during a time in the 1990’s when she was fond of making random public appearances in a bunny suit made from an antique chenille bedspread. It became the perfect business name to embody her love of working with a wide variety of found and conventional art materials.
Hilary is excited to have a solid art presence in Portland’s Alberta Arts District with her Window of Wonders. As a 5th generation Oregonian whose great-grandfather built many of the churches and homes in that area, she has lived in the Sabin neighborhood since 2002. As President of a small, now defunct nonprofit organization called Art on Alberta, she led a team of volunteers to bring many permanent art works to the Alberta Arts District and, in 2010, mounted an exhibition of the work of Oregonian Thelma Johnson Streat, the first African American woman to be in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. This fall she will open her Alberta-adjacent studio to the public on the second and third weekends of October as part of Portland Open Studios.
Growing up in Oregon made a big artistic impact on Hilary, whose family spent most of their weekends and vacations exploring the state’s natural areas from their Eugene home. When she was five years old, Oregon adopted its legendary bottle recycling bill, and Hilary could see the direct impact this made on her immediate surroundings, and how one person could make a difference. As Hilary grew as an artist, she often looked to reclaimed materials as a source, and started her first business in the late 1980’s using leftover clay from her job in a ceramic jewelry company. The business was throwing away the excess scrap every day, but Hilary soon started bringing them home, drying them out and reconstituting them into a rainbow of colored porcelains. Night classes in ceramics at the University of Oregon helped her to learn more about the properties of clay, and she soon built her first business selling work to around 50 galleries and bookstores around the country. She continued honing her skills at many respected institutions across the country, including the Penland School of Crafts, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Maude Kerns Art Center, and Sitka Center for Art and Ecology.
In her late 20’s, Hilary moved to Portland to finish her degree at Oregon College of Art and Craft, adding woodworking and metalsmithing to her skillset. An early adopter of Etsy, she has established a loyal online following of thousands of collectors. Hilary’s work has been featured in American Craft Magazine and is part of many important collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Center for Art in Wood, Pixar director Lee Unkrich, and the White House. She has also created many permanent public art pieces around the Portland area at such locations as the Randall Children’s Hospital, Trimet’s Orange Max Line, and one opening this fall at the Garlington Health and Wellness Center in NE Portland.