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Career spanning exhibition of work by Michele Oka Doner opens at Perez Art Museum Miami
Michele Oka Doner, Telchine, 2010. Terra-cotta, 20 x 15 x 11 inches. Courtesy Doner Studio, New York. Photo credit: Jens Mauritz. Image courtesy Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory, Munich.

MIAMI, FLA.- Pérez Art Museum Miami is presenting Michele Oka Doner: How I Caught a Swallow in Midair. Oka Doner is a Miami native whose work has been presented around the globe since the 1960s. The exhibition will be on view through September 11, 2016. The robust selection of artworks included in the exhibition span the duration of Oka Doner’s career and highlight major moments in her artistic development, revealing the lasting influence of the natural world on her practice. How I Caught a Swallow in Midair is organized by former PAMM Director Thom Collins, and coincides with the premier of the Miami City Ballet’s presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with costumes and sets designed by the artist.

How I Caught A Swallow in Midair takes its name from a 1990 cyanotype, in which Oka Doner captured an organic abstract shape that could be easily mistaken for a swooping Swallow. In this work and others, the artist’s simple gestures transform aspects of the natural world—present but otherwise overlooked in day-to-day life—into poetic works of art. Handmade pieces blend with naturally occurring materials—porcelain resembling volcanic stone, stone resembling seashells, bronze sculpted into brambles and branches—while works on paper show the human figure made up of plants and other organic materials. Each of the roughly three-dozen pieces illustrates a pivotal turn in the artist’s career and was chosen in close collaboration between the artist and curator, making the exhibition an intimate portrait of her development over five decades.

“This exhibition highlights the way our museum is always connecting the global with the local: Michele is an artist whose work has been celebrated internationally, but who grew up in our community and whose work draws on the natural environment that defines our city,” says PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans.

Michele Oka Doner was born and raised in Miami Beach, and studied at the University of Michigan. Over the past five decades, she has created sculpture, public art, prints, drawings, artist books and video, as well as costume and set design. 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, one of the largest public artworks in the world.

Oka Doner’s work is 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 St. Louis Art Museum; the CooperHewitt National Design Museum, and elsewhere.

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