Donna Mikkelsen

category: Visual,

Contact & Info

Artist Statement

Donna Mikkelsen is an ambidextrous artist born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. From a very early age, she trained herself to be ambidextrous. Whether it was playing stoop ball, hand ball, writing or carrying groceries, she would always use both hands. She continued to explore her passion for symmetry and balance through drawing and dance throughout high school and at age 18 she put two pens to the page and began her journey with ambidextrous drawing. For over 25 years she has been exploring different materials, trying out different speeds, rhythms, directions, sequences and sizes. Her process organically formed into a type of moving meditation. Donna currently has two main bodies of work: Spontaneous Symmetry which explores ambidextrous movement meditation and Word Alchemy takes sayings by social justice heroes and artists like Martin Luther King, Prince and Frida Kahlo and deconstructs their words by abandoning spacing, punctuation and direction in order to explore what new meanings might emerge as the words and letters are written forwards, backwards, in spirals and zig zags.

Educational Background

Donna studied at Parsons School of Design, she is certified as a Montessori Teacher, a graduate of the Entrepreneurial Academy through Westchester Community College. Twenty five years teaching students of all ages has been the most profound hands-on educational experience. Like many of her students, Donna always learned best through doing and creating. She uses her art as a tool for learning, self discovery and expression.

Teaching Artist Experience

Donna has over 25 years experience teaching arts based curriculum in both in-school and community based settings. In 2001, she founded the arts-integrated, Garden Road School in Westchester County and served as its Director for 11 years. Following that she became Education Director for the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill where she developed a Docent Training program for high school students, organized artist residencies and developed and produced Live Art Fest, a community art making event, which ran with tremendous success for two years. Donna is currently following her two passions, art and education. As a teaching artist she has developed AmbiArts workshops for people of all ages. These workshops incorporate the principles of her ambidextrous drawing technique that she has entitled as “Spontaneous Symmetry”. Participants get to experience drawing with both hands and are led through a series of individual ambidextrous doodling exercises “ambi doodles” that then build into collaborative drawings called “quadra doodles” drawn with 4 hands and “octo doodles” drawn with 8 hands. The process engages both hemispheres of the brain, utilizes kinesthetic learning, calms nerves, builds teamwork and its fun. This summer Donna set AmbiArts at the Club Draw picnic where the community could come together and draw. Parents and children were making art together. She offered a team building workshop for the Beacon Arts board development meeting and is the Artist Resident for the Beacon Independent Film Festival where she will be offering AmbiArts. Donna has also collaborated with BOCES in Duchess County, the Center for Creative Education in Beacon and Kingston and the NYC Board of Education to bring “Arts for Social Justice” programming into schools.