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Must-See Public Art: Katonah Museum of Art

Mana and Primal Self Portrait by Michele Oka Doner (photo credit: Margaret Fox)
Mana and Primal Self Portrait by Michele Oka Doner (photo credit: Margaret Fox)

Katonah Museum of Art is displaying the diverse sculptures of renowned artists Michele Oka Doner and Ronald Bladen (1918-1988) for the upcoming year. Oka Donder, who is inspired by her lifelong study and appreciation of the natural world, creates evocative sculptures that resemble organic forms, such as bark, tree roots and the human body. Doner demonstrates in her pieces the inevitability of death as a part of life. Her sculptures Mana and Primal Self Portrait are comprised of upright headless and armless human figures that are molded by roots, vines and cast bronze. They are then coated with earth-toned stains to give the appearance of the figures having eroded with time. The artist distorts these organic materials to reveal the irrepressible forces of nature, such as fertility and deterioration. The large-scale, geometric forms of Ronald Bladen are also on view at the Museum. Though Bladen used minimalistic shapes, his works emit drama and emotion while also commenting on the force of gravity, the vitality of planar surfaces and the impact of scale. For instance, Flying Fortress, a black sculpture with sharp edges, generates the illusion of an object moving through space, yet fastened to the earth. Meanwhile, Host of the Ellipse contains two opposing components, made in aluminum and coated with black semi-gloss paint, with trapezoidal bases and blade-like arms that defy gravity by projecting upward and outward. Both installations are on view through September 2020. For more info, visit katonahmuseum.org.

Mana by Michele Oka Doner (photo credit: Margaret Fox)
Primal Self Portrait by Michele Oka Doner (photo credit: Margaret Fox)
"Flying Fortress" by Ronald Bladen (photo credit: Margaret Fox)
"Host of the Ellipse" by Ronald Bladen (photo credit: Margaret Fox)

A version of this article first appeared in the October issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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