Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Donna Dodson — Boston, Mass.

Lynette Haggard's Weekly Artist Interview

Asian Elephant

Photo credits: Asian Elephant, Elephant Princess, Prom Queen and Trumpeting Elephant,
Clements Howcroft photography

Lynette Haggard (LH): Can you share with my readers a little about yourself?
Donna: I am a sculptor by day and a college librarian by night.

Artist Donna Dodson

LH: Where did you grow up and what (if any) were there any early influences on your work?

Donna: I grew up in Northboro, Mass., which is a small suburban town near Worcester. Probably one of the earliest artistic influences on my work was a man in our church who taught Sunday School. His most famous painting was based on John 3:16 "For God so loved the world …” which was a scene of Jesus crucified and hanging on the cross and on the ground was an astronaut, a pregnant woman, a bride and groom, the Ethiopians, etc… all the people who don’t deserve this redemption and in the background was the pyramids, the heads from easter island and other images of art from different cultures and civilizations to put it into perspective that Christianity was just one kind of religion. He went onto to paint abstractions from the Book of Revelations about the apocalypse and he had a show of paintings in the church vestibule. I couldn’t believe you could put your imagination, beliefs and visions out into the world like that. It really blew my mind in much the same way children’s book illustrations become real for children.

Trumpeting Elephant

LH: Where do you live now? 
Donna: I live in Boston. I’ve lived in the city since I graduated from Wellesley College 20 years ago. I majored in French literature from the African Diaspora.

LH: Did you receive any formal art training? 
Donna: I took a lot of pre med courses and after college I studied with Joseph Wheelwright in his Boston studio.

LH: At what point in your life did you become interested in making art?
Donna: I wrote a lot of poetry for about 5 years after college, then I got into pottery, drawing and making found object sculptures.

LH:  Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist? 
Donna: After I graduated from college.

LH: Can you describe bit about your work in general. 
Donna: I make animal headed mythological figures. Most are female or goddess figures. I carve direct in wood with a chainsaw, belt sander, chisels, rasps,files and lots of sandpaper. They range in size from 1-4 ft tall. My outdoor work is carved in styrofoam and covered in cement. These pieces are 8ft tall, 4 ft wide and 4 ft deep.

Elephant Princess

LH: What is your media?

Donna: Wood [logs] and paint primarily. Styrofoam and cement for my large scale pieces. I’ve also made small sculptures with rapid prototypes or 3D prints, bronze, glass, aluminum, iron, brass, copper, etc.

LH: What is your current work about? 

Donna: I did a series of matriarchal figures with 15 elephant headed goddess figures exploring matrilineal, tribal, clan and group kinships. I've also recently done some outdoor pieces, large scale pieces based on my smaller wood indoor work.

Prom Queen

LH: What is your workspace like? 
Donna: I have 1 BR apt in a coop [600sf]. I use the living room[200sf] as a sculpture studio. It has 10ft ceilings and since I work with a chainsaw, I’m lucky to have a laundry room
downstairs and outside walls. I work during the day when most people are at work so I don’t bother anyone.

Dodson's studio

LH: Are you involved with any arts groups or communities?
If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?
Donna: I joined the Boston Sculptors gallery 2 ½ years ago. It’s a coop gallery with a great space in gallery district. It’s also a great group of people who I respect and admire. I have gallery sitting and administrative duties that are ongoing year-round.

LH: How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?
Donna:  I manage a listserv for artists in the Greater Boston area, the Art Salon Boston, http://groups.google.com/group/art-salon that posts calls to artists, exhibition opportunities and announcements of upcoming shows. I started it in May 2007 and it used to meet at my studio every month but since I joined the Boston Sculptors Gallery the group quit meeting.

LH: Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you?
Donna: I work every day in my studio. I try to keep up a pace of 1-2 sculptures every month.

Outdoor Photos: Giant Panda, Elephant Oracle and Hathor, 
Donna Dodson

Elephant Oracle

LH: Do you have any web links/site/blog etc. you'd like to share that
show your work?

Donna: My blog is www.donnadodsonartist.blogspot.com.

LH: Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Donna: No, but I have found drawing and printmaking have helped to invigorate my sculpture practice.

Panda Bear

LH: Do you have particular habits that you think support your art
: I work every day.

LH:  What are you reading right now? 
Donna: $12 MILLION dollar stuffed shark by Don Thompson

LH:  Do you have other jobs other than making art? 

Donna: College librarian


LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
Donna: Still doing it, and more of it.

LH: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
See my blog for more info.

Thank you Donna!


Anonymous said...

Great interview with Donna Dodson. I have been collecting her work for over 15 years. I have some truly incredible pieces of hers. I wish I had room for one of the huge outdoor Elephant-headed goddess figures. I have metal sculptures, wood sculptures, and a large framed piece from her early working period.
I have not seen any other work like hers; she is a true original artist.
J. Hart

Anonymous said...

Interesting! Love the wooden sculptures.

Lynette Haggard said...

Yes this work is very inspirational and fun. Thank you for reading!