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 Donna Jean Reed Jacobson  (1944 - 1994)

About: Donna Jean Reed Jacobson


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Lived/Active: California      Known for: charcoal wood Indian portrait, animal

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, submitted October 2004, is from Nickie Dahlke.

"When I lived in Hawaii there was a little Indian store called "Troche's Trading Post" in Kailua on the Island of O'ahu. They carried a lot of Donna Jacobson's art work. My family and I bought many. I recently found in my paperwork a biography of artist Donna J. Jacobson written by herself before she passed. She was a very talented artist and left this world much too soon.


I was born in Los Angeles, in 1944, and grew up there most of my life. I was raised by my mother and grandmother. Except for a few months as a baby (due to divorce), I never knew my father. I lived in So. California and graduated from Banning High School in 1962. The only time I ever spent away from the area was a few short summers in the Colorado Mts. (my grandmother and mother were born and raised there).

I married in 1962, and was a wife and mother for the next 15 years of my life. I never did any kind of art work, and never dreamed of doing any, I knew I could not draw and as far as I can remember never tried. I was a math and science major in school and once married, my only interest was raising a family and the joy of reading.

In 1976, I became a widow and had two great children (Keith and Jennie) to raise on my own. The one thing I felt I did extremely well, was to care for children, and I had 10 years experience helping raise handi-capped children with my grandmother. So I decided to go back to school for a nursing degree. It was during that time that I was first exposed to art. I saw my first galleries and museums, and I felt the first stirring of a desire to be a part of it. For me it was just a wish to have some of the beauty I saw around me, for I was certain I could never created any kind of art. At that same time, I had the good fortune to meet the man who was to become my future husband, and it was through him that I had my first real exposure to art and encouragement to try some kind of art myself.

While I was taking classes for nursing, I decided to take a beginning oil painting class, for someone had told me that I did not have to draw to paint. That was in 1979, little did I know what that would open up for me, or how my life was to change. For the next two years, I was to experiment with many forms of art and to discover my love of charcoal and faces. i also was to start a new life with Frank and my children in Central California.

Probably long before I was good enough, or ready to show professionally, Frank entered me in an art show. That was the first of many shows that would lead me to grow with my art work and develop the style that is unique to myself. Many of my first works were primitive, and unfinished, but people found something in my faces that drew them to my work ad the emotions in my faces. Because of the constant demand for my work and the encouragement of my husband, I was never allowed to give up on myself or my work. Instead I found the joy and reward of creating, and through that creation, the ability to give to others something that will continue giving long after I am gone. None of this is truly unique, there are many with the same story.

One of the truly strange things is how I came to do the art I do, I was never around Indian people or exposed to any of their culture, but I always was interested in them. As I said earlier, I loved to read, and I did read many stories about the Native American. There are many people that love the Indian people and their art and you do not have to be one of the heritage to do so. As far as I was concerned, I was an Irish girl, who loved Indians.

It wasn't until 1987 that I got to meet and know my father. I not only got to know him but I also discovered a half brother and two half sisters I never knew. My father was only back in my life for four short month, before he passed away, but in that time he left my many treasures. One of those most precious was a story about his childhood, when his mom was scolding him and threatening to give him a whipping, when in walked his grandmother, holding a broom her people made, and she told his mom not to whip him or else she would use the broom on her. Then Dad said, "Honey, you should have seen it, in walked Grandma, a big French, Indian woman, carrying a broom. She was going to protect me." The story was about my great grandmother, Sarah Collins, she was Choctaw and French, as was my great grandfather. To my dad (Lloyd Lamar Lofton) it didn't mean much except as a fond memory of someone whom he loved. To me it was much more, it was a heritage I never dreamed of.

In 1979 I discovered the world of art and a hope that I could one day be a part of it. In 1981 I discovered (through Frank) the beauty would could bring to my faces of charcoal. I discovered I could pull my faces from wood and myself, letting free my imagination. In 1987 I discovered a heritage that I had loved but never known. I am still on the road of discovery and look forward to it all.

Donna Jean Reed Jacobson
Born September 3, 1944
Los Angeles, California
Entered into Rest
July 5, 1994
Grover Beach, California

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