Artist Spotlight: Adan Bonilla

Adan Bonilla
Adan Bonilla

Abstract painter is also Golden Gloves boxer with 5–0 record

Born in St. Paul and raised in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, Adan Bonilla, 20, graduated from Simley High School in 2016. Adan is earning an Associate of Arts (A.A.) at Inver Hills Community College. He is graduating fall 2018 with plans to continue his education at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture: College of Design.

Adan is an abstract painter who takes full advantage of the resources provided by the Inver Hills Art department. He prefers working with acrylic paints over oil paints because the latter take far longer to dry and give off turpentine fumes. He uses a layer of glaze on his paintings to create an oil-like effect.

Rob Kolomyski, Adan’s art instructor at Inver Hills, is impressed by Adan’s painting skills and his determination to be a successful artist.

“Adan is one of my best students,” Rob said. “He is a hard worker, deep thinker and a very strong painter. My favorite story about him was the time he took one of his student paintings to the Minneapolis Institute of Art and asked them to display it. They loved his work, but asked him to come back in a few years. I have great confidence that one day I will find his artwork on those hallowed walls.”

Adan is undecided about his future career path. He can see himself as a professional artist or a licensed architect. He is also a Golden Gloves boxer with aspirations of turning pro.

“I have a lot of options at this point,” Adan said, “but I do know I will always continue painting.”

Adan Bonilla artist gallery


Adan is a Golden Gloves boxer with a 5–0 record. He started boxing seven years ago and discovered he has a talent for the fight game.

Adan competes as a middleweight in the 165-pound weight class. When he’s training for a fight, he runs three miles in the morning and another three miles at night. He also spars, goes through defensive drills and does weight work.

“Training for a fight is very important,” said Adan, who has hopes of turning pro after his amateur career. “I got gassed in my first fight. I won, but it was tough. That will never happen again.”

Three words that describe you as a boxer:

Adan is considered a counter-puncher, one known for hitting with power. He doesn’t have an official fight name yet, but people call him “The Don.” His next Golden Gloves fight is January 2019.


More about Adan…

During the warmer months of the school year, Adan works 20 hours a week for his father’s roofing company. He started working with his dad when he was 10 years old. During the summer months, he puts in between 75 and 80 hours a week.

“I’m just another worker when I’m on the job,” Adan said.

Adan’s dad, Hector, started out as a field worker when he came to the U.S. from Mexico. He then worked in a diner, picking up every shift, and later for a roofing company. He saved money until he had enough to start his own roofing business in partnership with his brother, Adan’s uncle.

Adan’s girlfriend, Rhea Peter, attends Metropolitan State University, where she is earning her B.S. in Human Services. Adan’s mom, Maria, takes care of a large family. Adan has four siblings, Crystal, 14, Zaira, 12, Andres, 10, and Ilda, 8. Studying, painting, training and working take up virtually all of Adan’s time, but in the summer he does like to ride his bike.

TRIO Student Support Services connection

Adan never acclimated to life in high school. Things were shaping up the same way in college until he discovered TRIO Student Support Services.

“I struggled my first semester at Inver Hills,” he said, “but then I got involved in TRIO. That made all the difference. Matt Kruger, my TRIO advisor, showed me what classes I needed to take to get my degree and we set up a transfer plan for the U of M. Matt was a big help.”

Matt is happy that TRIO SSS was able to offer Adan the assistance he needed, but he also gives Adan a lot of credit for finding his footing on campus.

“I’m very proud of Adan for what he has accomplished so far,” Matt said. “College wasn’t immediately easy for him, but he figured out how to keep himself organized, stay on top of homework and studying, and still enjoy the things that are the most important to him. He’s been a pleasure to advise because he is always looking to learn new things and also shares his own interests and perspective.”

Adan Bonilla | Q & A

Adan Bonilla
Adan Bonilla

What do you like best about attending Inver Hills?
TRIO Student Support Services has been a huge help. The teachers at the college are super-understanding.

What is one thing every painter should know?
I’m going to quote my art instructor at Inver, Mr. Rob: “No painting is ever finished; you just reach a point of satisfaction.

Who is your favorite artist (living or dead)?
Winslow Homer. Picasso. Frida Kahlo.

What is your favorite artistic medium?
Acrylics. I also do charcoal drawings.

What three words describe you as an artist?

What is your artistic style?
Abstract portraits.

What are your long-range goals as an artist?
I want to be known for painting something different. I definitely would like to do an art show.

What has been your toughest challenge in life?
Making it through high school. My art teacher didn’t like me or my work.

What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
My boxing record and making it through high school.

What person(s) has influenced you the most in life?
My parents.

Adan Bonilla | 21 Answers


  1. Favorite season: Fall
  2. ccc_switzerlandFavorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Waterfalls and forests
  3. Most exciting thing you have ever done: Cliff-jumping without knowing how to swim; my friend pulled me to the surface and put me in a floatie.
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: Penguin
  5. Place you would most like to visit: Switzerland
  6. Favorite holiday: Christmas
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: African elephant
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Jim Carrey
  9. Favorite band or performing artist: Nirvana
  10. ccc_carreyYour personal motto if you had to have one: “Live life, man.”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: Nature
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Narcissism
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: Friends
  14. Favorite all-time movie: Pineapple Express or Scarface
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: No regrets when I’m old
  16. Most valuable material possession: Ring from my girlfriend, Rhea
  17. What would you do if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: Spend it like crazy on family and friends.
  18. ccc_princeDream occupation: Artist
  19. Person you would most like to meet: Prince
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Master artist
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: Being nice to each other.
Learn more about earning an Associate of Arts (A.A.) at Inver Hills by contacting:

Admissions Team
College Center

Learn more about the A.F.A. in Art at Inver Hills by contacting:

Rob Kolomyski
Art Faculty

Learn more about TRIO Student Support Services at Inver Hills by contacting:

Matt Kruger
TRIO Student Support Services Director
Travelers EDGE Director

Alicia Atwater
TRIO Student Support Services Advisor


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