Copper in the Arts

February 2010

Spirit and Form: Michele Oka Doner at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Beneath the Leafy Crown Sculpture Michele Oka Doner, 'Root System', 2002-2003. Bronze, 69 x 116 x 77 inches

Photograph courtesy of Doner Studio.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is hosting an exclusive exhibition by American artist Michele Oka Doner, through May 9, 2010. Among the most versatile artists working today, Oka Doner is widely celebrated for her exquisitely beautiful public commissions as well as sculpture, prints, jewelry and functional objects that are now found in public and private collections throughout the world.

Spirit and Form showcases eight large scale relief prints of human forms from organic material; several functional items including serving pieces in bronze and sterling silver, and magnifiers; and Root System a 55 square foot candelabra made of roots cast in bronze. Central to the exhibition is a large installation of 1,500 Soul Catchers.

The source of Oka Doner's governing passion emanates from the spiritual nature that forms around us. Drawing inspiration from objects found both on and within land and water, she renders raw materials into strange and secret forms. She considers herself as a hunter/gatherer, seeking the inventiveness of nature and repurposing it into a one-of-a-kind sculpture.

"Religion and spirituality exist all around us, binding humankind and nature together in dialogue; art and design becomes the language for our conversation," said Oka Doner.

In her largest exhibition to date, Spirit and Form presents a rare opportunity to experience Oka Doner's versatility and the breadth of her endeavors from recent figurative projects in bronze and on paper to decorative objects in bronze and silver. The exhibition shows nature as the underlying theme of her work, applied in a variety of usage, scale, materials and media.

"Oka Doner's work suggests the interconnectedness of all things," said Joseph Becherer, Chief Curator and Vice President. "With her openness to the spirit of nature, Oka Doner's work presents a profoundly mystical dimension that is not accidental but rather a combination of her experiences in a variety of settings."

Oka Doner's work is represented in Meijer Garden's permanent collection. Her work Colossus can be viewed within the 32-acre Sculpture Park and Gnomon is on display indoors. In 2008, the artist installed Beneath the Leafy Crown, a 13,607 foot floor sculpture consisting of more than 1,650 bronze leaf and botanical-inspired elements suspended in deep green terrazzo.

"Michele's work has helped transform Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park aesthetically and philosophically," said David Hooker, President and CEO of Meijer Gardens. "This exhibition is an undeniable tribute to her transformational powers as a creator and thinker."


Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, 1000 E Beltline Avenue Northeast Grand Rapids, MI, (616) 957-1580

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