Magazine article Sculpture

NEW YORK: Donna Dennis

Magazine article Sculpture

NEW YORK: Donna Dennis

Article excerpt

Mixed Greens

Once Donna Dennis decided to close the doors she had made, they opened for her. When she landed in New York City in the early '70s and found herself smack within the barbed cross - hairs of feminism and male-driven Minimalism, she confronted both. Her series of "door works"-including Egyptian Hotel (1972), a slim mastabalike door-resembled geometrically shaped canvases that physically led nowhere. Instead, they functioned as psychological passageways through which Dennis discovered her voice. Studies For Little Tube House and the Night Sky (2015), an installation consisting of dioramas, an architectural sculpture, and related gouaches, celebrates this groundbreaking artist's ability to stretch her voice.

The door series, sired by memories of roadside country cabins where Dennis spent idyllic childhood family vacations, evolved into her iconic '80s architectural models of tourist cabins, tiled subway station rest rooms, and related installations. Sim - ilar ideas, by turns nostalgic and brooding, animated such major environments as Coney Island Maze (1996-2009), a Piranesi-like construction based on the underbelly of the Cyclone, the amusement park's famed roller coaster. In her new work, the eeriness of this macabre, abandoned underworld collides with daylight memories of compact bungalows from a time when childhood was fun, safe, and seemed to last forever. Clearly, Dennis's journey, ever more surreal and ephemeral, is ongoing.

Like the familiar tourist cabins, Little Tube House transcribes something that Dennis saw while traveling- a small unassuming shack in an industrial section of Duluth, Min - nesota, its windows boarded, its door tightly shut. "CAUTION! FLAMMABLE!" read the signs. Pipe projections supporting and emanating from the shack included a long tube attached to a nozzle. Dennis assumed the little structure housed fuel. In an accompanying video, she speaks about how she related this architecture to the plight of a young, vital friend who died a few months after she was diagnosed with cancer. …

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