Michele Oka Doner

Michele Oka Doner

Michele Oka Doner's work is fueled by a lifelong study and appreciation of the natural world, particularly the marine flora and fauna of Florida. She was born in 1945 in Miami Beach, Florida.  "Miami Beach is primal in my work. It was a place that fascinated and nurtured me, with the forces of nature, the dramatic thunderstorms, the extraordinary light.”

Michele Oka Doner received a Bachelor of Science and Design in 1966 and a Masters in Fine Arts in 1968 from the University of Michigan. Her artwork is incredibly diverse and encompasses sculpture, furniture, jewelry, public art and functional objects such as chandeliers. “People say sometimes, with surprise, ‘You use so many different materials, you make so many different things’” says Oka Doner in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily in 2011. “Well, of course. Why wouldn’t you? Why do people feel they need to stake a claim in a small arena?”

Two of her most famous pieces, A Walk on the Beach (1992-1995), and its extension, From Seashore to Tropical Gardens (1996-2010), are on display at the Miami International Airport. They are composed of over 7,200 bronzes embedded in terrazzo with mother-of-pearl and are spread over 2 1/2 miles.

Moved by shapes in nature, Okra Doner collects items to inspire her human figures. In the creative process, she melts wax and manipulates it to form the outward shapes. Using a heat gun and a knife, she carves into the wax until it has the desired texture of natural objects. The finished forms are then sent to a foundry and cast in bronze.

Her artwork has been acquired by major museums and private collections in the United States and Europe, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Cooper-Huewitt, National Design Museum, and many others.

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