Miami born and raised, international artist Michele Oka Doner led a personal tour in a large, tranquil space at the Perez Art Museum recently.
Her exhibition is entitled How I Caught a Swallow in Midair. Ms. Oka Doner stated, “I collect moments.” In this exhibition visitors will be able to voyage into some of her intimate magical moments.
“I was in a very safe environment when I was young,” she explained. “I could stay outdoors and learn. I was a young woman left to wander.” Her wanderings started out in her own back yard here in Miami. Soon she ventured into other yards in Florida and eventually she would discover yards in many countries around the world. The works on display progress from the 1960’s to the present. There are numerous functional designs and works on paper. There are also samples of her early ceramics.
The title of her exhibition takes its name from a 1990 cyanotype, in which she captured an organic abstract shape that could be easily mistaken for a swooping Swallow. Oka Doner transforms aspects of the natural world into poetic works of art. Handmade pieces easily blend with naturally occurring materials to form thoughtful, energy filled feelings. She said, “The origin of consciousness was a breakthrough for me. A thoughtfulness that transformed me.”
Expect to find everyday created objets d’art, juxtaposed with driftwood, shells, rocks, branches, etc. There are also life-size human forms painted on paper with organic roots which renders them closer to nature. “I’ve always been interested in the human body”
Wrapped in her trademark draped silk dress which is simple and reminiscent of a Grecian robe, Oka Doner suddenly stopped by some pieces that she had arranged on a platform floor, swooped up some shells and branches, held them for a few instances while she seemed to remember another time and place. Then she replaced them differently as if to alter her memories slightly and continued with her tour.
“When I was starting out in the art world, the pop movement that I was learning about didn’t talk to me. I knew there was truth in what I was doing. I didn’t feel like I was working in isolation. I always did what I loved.” Oka Doner has formulated her own path and developed her own diverse body of work without pausing for directions from others. Much later she was attracted to poetry which is also inscribed in this show. “I keep things that I call ah ha moments” she said.
What’s next for Ms. Oka Doner? She will be the key speaker at the 13th brain mapping convention on April 7, 2016.
Her works are on view through September 11, 2016. Details: pamm.org.