132: Michele Oka Doner (1945, USA)
Michele Oka Doner (1945, USA)
Totem with Five Masks
Porcelain, Steel; largest mask ht. 6, wd. 4.5, dp. 3 in.
Michele Oka Doner's (b. 1945) hugely successful career working with sculpture, jewelry, public art, ceramics, furniture and other functional objects spans four decades. She is perhaps best known for the installation, A Walk on the Beach (1995-1999), at the Miami International Airport, which consists of a mile of dark terrazzo inlaid with bronze and mother-of-pearl. "People say sometimes, with surprise, You use so many different materials, you make so many different things," says the artist of her material polygamy. To this she responds, "Well, of course. Why wouldn't you? Why do people feel they need to stake a claim in a small arena?"
In the 1960s her arena was ceramics. We are pleased to offer five rare and important works from this period. Oka Doner studied ceramics at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, graduating in 1966. Within a couple of years her work had begun to make waves both aesthetically and politically. A piece from her Death Mask series in 1967 was selected as the cover of Generation, the university's avant-garde student journal, as campus unrest over the Vietnam War escalated. Students protesting the disfiguration caused by the use of the damaging chemical Napalm adopted her Tattooed Porcelain Dolls as their resistant symbol. These dismembered figures grew out of her earlier bowl and pod works. Historian and curator, Suzanne Ramljak, describes these early ceramic works as "a telling overture for an artist who would seek a connection with elemental 'first things' as she calls them. Earth and fire speak boldly through these works, revealing an acceptance of nature and accident as creative partners."
References: R. Stevens. “3rd Biennale Des Artistes Du Michigan,” La Revue Modern des Arts et de la Vie, Paris: June 28, 1969.
Michele Oka Doner. "Art Folio: I. Lithographs, Etchings, Ceramics by Michele Oka Doner," Generation, Ann Arbor, Michigan: 1968.
Arthur C. Danto, et al. Michele Oka Doner: Natural Seduction. New York, NY: Hudson Hills Press, 2003.
Some light scratches on stand. Maker's cracks and fissures.