Tara Donovan is active/lives in New York. Tara Donovan is known for natural phenomena installation-every day materials.
Biography from the Archives of askART
An installation artist who uses common materials such as toothpicks,
tar paper, drinking straws and paper plates to achieve the effect of
natural phenomena, Tara Donovan describes herself as "fascinated with
creating chaos out of something and then restructuring it and giving it
new order." She says her goal is to transcend her materials so
that "what they are made from is not initially apparent." She
begins by creating a small-scale version of the work she envisions, and
then works with studio assistants to make the final installation that
can take up to six-hundred hours.
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Many of her works are large-scale from a single material in "massive
quantity" such as her entry in the 2000 Whitney Biennial---a miniature
mountain range' composed of electrical wire.
Tara Donovan was born in Queens, New York and was raised in Rockland
County, New York, where she loved changing shapes she saw in
landscape. She did undergraduate work at the Corcoran College of
Art and Design in Washington DC, and did much landscape paintings of
rural scenes. However, an assignment her junior year to create 80
works within two weeks out of every possible kind of material changed
her direction to her current focus of using basic materials to create
the illusion of being something else.
She received her M.F.A. in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth
University in Richmond where she had a garage studio. In 2000,
she moved to New York City, and was awarded a free studio space in
Tribeca by the Sharpe Art Foundation, whose jury to select recipients
included famed drawing portraitist, Chuck Close. He has
subsequently helped further her career and describes her work as
transcending "their physical reality in a way that seldom happens in
To earn money, she was a waitress at the Savoy restaurant in
SoHo. Within three years, she had created a Minimalist Cube out
of over a half-million toothpicks and a mountain from drinking straws
in undulating shape that, placed a long a forty-four foot long wall at
Rice University in Houston, gave the impression of being a huge fog
In 2003, a prominent New York gallery gave Donovan space for seven
large-scale installations, and this was career-changing in that she
received much positive critical acclaim and opened the door to many
Tara Donovan was awarded the inaugural Calder Prize given by the Calder Foundation in 2005.
Hilarie M. Sheets, 'Turning Straws Into Clouds', ARTnews, December 2005, pp. 128-131.
Art in America, December 2005
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