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Michele Oka Doner: A Woman of Nature.

Michele Oka Doner:  A Woman of Nature.



Introduction to Michele Oka Doner.  2:58 min.  Includes excerpts from A Walk on the Beach: Based on an installation by Michele Oka Doner at Miami International Airport.  Director:  Nick Merrick.  Director of Photography & Editor:  Athan Merrick.  Producer:  Hedrich Blessing.  Original score for conch shell, Del Mar a la Estrellas:  William Cepeda.  



MICHELE OKA DONER (b. 1945, Miami Beach) is an internationally renowned artist whose career spans four decades.  The breadth of her artistic production encompasses sculpture, furniture, jewelry, public art, functional objects, video, as well as costume and set design.  Whether large scale architectural objects or intimately scaled objects, Oka Doner’s work is fueled by a lifelong study and appreciation of the natural world, from which she derives her formal vocabulary.  She is well-known for creating numerous public art installations throughout the United States, including Radiant Site at New York’s Herald Square subway, Flight at Washington’s Reagan International Airport, and A Walk on the Beach at the Miami International Airport (1995-2010), which features nine thousand unique bronze sculptures inlaid over a mile-and-a-quarter long concourse of terrazzo and mother-of-pearl, one of the largest public artworks in the world.  Oka Doner’s numerous other public art projects can be found in federal courthouses, public libraries, hospitals, universities, other transportation centers, and public parks.

Oka Doner is represented by Marlborough Gallery, New York.  In addition to major solo exhibitions at Marlborough, her artwork can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, The Dallas Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, The University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Yale Art Gallery, and the Princeton University Art Museum, among others.  She has created collections with Steuben in glass, Christofle in silver, and Nymphenburg in porcelain.  Publications about her work include three monographs:  Natural Selection (Hudson Hills Press, 2003), Workbook (Oka Press, 2004), HumanNature (Edizioni Charta, 2008),  and Into the Mysterium (Regan Arts, 2016).  Oka Donor’s most recent book, Everything Is Alive, was published in September, 2017 by Regan Arts (Phaidon Press).  The 240 page book contains a cornucopia of images documenting the evolution of some of her most notable large scale projects; and essays by Judith Thurman, Joseph Giovannini, Cynthia Nadelman, and Gregory Volk.

In Miami, Oka Doner had a solo exhibition at the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) in 2016, and will have a solo exhibition at the Lowe Art Museum, opening in October, 2017.

The videos below are organized by topic and run between 30 seconds and 5 minutes. Click on any video. You must be connected to the Internet to view the videos.




What was your first awareness of art and when did it become a passion for you?


CURIOSITY:   2:30 min.

What are some of the other ways your mother influenced your aesthetic?



Why did you elect to attend the University of Michigan?



What did you learn in school that had an impact on your career?



When you were in college, and at the beginning of your career, Abstract Expressionism was the dominant art genre. Did you make a conscious decision to buck the tide?



Who were the artists that influenced you?



In your public art you often take many small intimate objects and images and aggregate them into very large-scale pieces.



Francis Olschafskie is both an artist and inventor. He teaches a course that asks the question, “What came first, art or the science to make art?”



Since there are so many elements of nature in your artwork, have you taken formal courses in the sciences?



There is something about your work that reminds me of the Golem in Michael Chabon’s “Kavalier & Clay” — fashioning life from natural debris and mud.