For more than four decades, American artist Michele Oka Doner has been producing artwork inspired by the fascinating forms of nature. This work includes sculptures found in the collections of major museums around the world and the design for monumental public spaces – such as Herald Square Subway Station in New York, Miami National Airport or Sacramento Central Library. She also designs everyday items such as jewellery and furniture.
Between 2008 and 2010, Oka Doner worked for Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg on creating a cycle of works made from porcelain and terracotta which now form part of a fantastic exhibition in the former kiln hall of the workshops. The installation
called “Down to Earth”
transforms the historic kilns with their alchemical past clearly visible in the residues on the bricks into magical places – five simple chambers enclosed in thick walls become familiar spaces which are homes to goddesses and “Soul Catchers”: dream worlds which transcend eras and cultures. The viewer can immerse himself and take his time to become a part of this.
Oka Doner grew up in 1950s Miami, just a few streets away from the sea. Her memories are full of the smells, the wind, the tides, the special light on the beach and the treasures of the sea – shells, driftwood and sea-grass. Oka Doner collected everything that was washed up on the beach near her home in Miami and used these findings in her artistic work. Irrespective of which forms or materials the artist uses, the natural world is always present in her works: corals, minerals, stones, trees and natural phenomena associated with organic processes all provide inspiration.
Her large-scale projects for public spaces, her sculptures and functional objects often reference the sea and the myths contained therein, oscillating between concrete forms and abstraction. Finally, they become metaphors picking out Planet Earth, its human characters, their constitutions and their relationship with nature as their central theme. Her work is reminiscent of internal mythology, of timeless pieces from years gone by, of archetypes which appeal to the kingdom of our soul.
Michele Oka Doner lives and works in New York and Miami Beach, Florida.
Her works form part of numerous private and public collections and are exhibited in museums in the USA, Europe and the Middle East, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Museum of Natural History, New York, the Miami Art Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Louvre, Paris.
Public exhibitions and commissions include the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Michigan, Miami International Airport (“A Walk on the Beach”), Herald Square (“Radiant Site”), New York, and the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (“Flight”), Virginia.
Oka Doner completed a Bachelor of Science in Design and a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Michigan and has extensive teaching experience. She has received many awards, among them the Award of Excellence from the United Nations Society of Writers and Artists and the Legends Award from the Pratt Institute.
Official website: http://www.micheleokadoner.com/