Welcome Register
Enter keywords...
PERSONALITIES

interview

A chat with the transcendental and multifaceted creator.

 

 

Michele Oka Doner: a myriad of artistic expressions

By Irene Moore


Noted artist and designer Michele Oka Doner’s career has spanned four decades. Her multi-disciplinary oeuvre encompasses sculpture, furniture, jewelry, public art, functional objects, video, as well as costume and set design. She works in clay, bronze, paper, wood, concrete, silver and gold. She has created collections with Steuben in glass, Christofle in silver, and Nymphenburg in porcelain. Whether large-scale architectural projects or intimately scaled objects, Oka Doner says her work is “inspired by the shapes, forms, and textures I experience in the world around me daily.”


Death Masks, 1967

Burning Bush 22, 2003

 Her work can be found in collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museé des Arts Deécoratifs at the Louvre, among many others.

She is well known for creating numerous public art installations throughout the U.S., including Radiant Site at New York’s Herald Square, and Flight at Reagan International Airport. Her inspiration for these large-scale projects harkens back to the ancient Greeks. “I love the ancient tradition of the agora, public space,” she says.

Oka Doner is probably best known for her creation, A Walk on the Beach, and installation on the floors of Miami International Airport, one of the largest public artworks in the world. The piece features nine thousand unique bronze sculptures inlaid in over a mile-and-a-quarter long concourse of terrazzo with mother-of-pearl. During the project’s long creation process (1995-1999), she was constantly inspired. “In the beginning, I referenced the beach itself, especially the littoral zone,” she says. “I looked forward each day to finding a new image and creating more images. It wasn’t a project telescoped into a short period. The North terminal just kept expanding like Einstein’s universe!”


A Walk on the Beach
 
Recently, Oka Doner designed the costumes and sets for Miami City Ballet’s season closer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Balanchine’s 1962 full-length ballet. She transported it to the Florida shore, setting it in an underwater realm with jellyfish-evoking tutus and unitards patterned from a coral reef. Lourdes López, Director of MCB, invited her to re-imagine it. “The notion of using Miami as the setting, and placing the ballet metaphorically under water, was exciting for us all,” López says. Oka Doner points out, “It was the first time I designed costumes, but after all, one does get dressed every day so the relationship between the body and presentation, representation, is very active, especially for a visually literate person.” 

Of her current exhibition at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM}, she says, “The exhibition contains a half century of work, pieces I held on to as touchstones or defining moments. The works represent many media and convergent ways of thinking.” The exhibit’s unusual name, How I Caught a Swallow in Mid-Air, “is derived from a question I asked myself after recently viewing cyanotype I made many years ago,” she says. 

Most recently Oka Doner has been involved with the Louver House condominium on Miami Beach by architect Rene González. For this project, “I am creating a mini agora, a small sunken living room that will provide the aura of community and the serenity of private, open space,” she says.

Her latest book, Into the Mysterium, is about displays she discovered at Miami’s Marine Invertebrate Museum, specimen jars with almost a million amorphous forms floating in mysterious fluids, a universe of underwater creatures. “The human inheritance is embedded in the mysterium, she says. “When we stare into the specimen jars with probing eyes and inquiring minds, wanting the secrets and marveling at the diversity, the complexity, we move from our smaller selves into a oneness of being.”

After decades, Oka Doner notes that her experience as an artist now is different. “The world has changed since I began working. People are more focused on the visual aspects of their lives including fashion, food, flowers, and home décor,” she says. “All of these formerly secondary considerations have become full-blown careers…Art has benefited as well, taking its place as a primary endeavor. The ripple effect of this elevation has been tremendous for all of the fields mentioned earlier.” ■


More on this topic

Stephanie Ansin: The Soul of the Miami Theater Center
She is a rebel that upholds only the highest standards and is always willing to take a risk. 

Zaha Hadid: The First Lady of Architecture
She was the first female recipient of the Pritzker Prize, considered the Nobel Prize of architecture, and the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). She leaves behind a trail of innovative, curvilinear architectural masterpieces, a bold and inimitable style and a very difficult gap to fill.


© azureazure.com | 2016

Comments Registration required to comment.
CLICK HERE to be part of the exclusive azureazure network.
Join us on Facebook
Follow us on Google +
Luxury Lifestyle. The ultimate in luxury and lifestyle.
© 2014 AZUREAZURE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED