Tara Donovan

b.1962, New York, lives in Brooklyn, New York

Tara Donovan’s process-driven work explores how materials behave, as she re-imagines the potential of everyday things. Her sculptures and large-scale installations build on the malleability of her chosen materials, amassing mundane objects such as plastic straws, Styrofoam cups, straight pins, rubber bands, and index cards into transcendent forms. Her work is typically untitled, but even in its open interpretation suggests a biomimicry of organic form and pattern.

In her first residency at Tamarind Institute, Donovan continued her exploration of printmaking, defying traditional techniques to create matrixes of astonishing simplicity and beauty. Tamarind Master Printer Valpuri Remling and Apprentice Printer Candice Corgan worked with Donovan to create a matrix constructed entirely of 3 x 5 index cards. She assembled the cards in a wooden structure, and then the overall construction was photographed from above. The photographic image was exposed to an aluminum plate, with the contrast adjusted to allow for the intricacies of the paper-thin edges to read as positive space. The simplicity of the one-color print is in keeping with Donovan’s larger body of work, in which the transformative properties of ordinary materials are realized through repetition and elegant formal sequencing. 

Donovan is the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award (2008), the first Calder Prize (2005), and exhibits her work internationally. Donovan has been the subject of several major solo exhibitions at museums including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1999); UCLA Hammer Museum (2004); The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2007); Milwaukee Art Museum (2012); Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York (2015); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2018).


Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Coyote in Quarantine, 2020


Judy Chicago, In Praise of Prarie Dogs, 2019


Hayal Pozanti, 8 (million tons of plastic that go into the sea each year), 2018, 2018


Tara Donovan, Untitled (2016).


Charles Arnoldi, Breaking, 2013


Enrique Martínez Celaya, The Optimists, 2014


Nick Cave, Amalgam (brown), 2015


James Siena, Sagging Infected Triangular Grid, 2012


Kiki Smith, Untitled, 2009