Léa Donnan

(Massachusetts) Artist Website Artist-in-Residence May Residency Year: 2016


Interdisciplinary artist Léa Donnan joined Surel’s Place for a residency in May of 2016. Raised in France, England, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Australia to a Japanese-born Austrian mother & Australian/Irish father, Donnan’s personal, transitory experiences form the basis of her practice. Working in diverse media that includes video, installation, object making, and performance, Donnan has worked with communities and institutions across the U.S., Iceland, Canada, France and Australia.

During her residency, Donnan experimented with materials installed in various landscapes within Idaho as well as in the studio. These works explored low-tech representations of “resolution targets used by Google Earth and military surveillance to test camera range.” Her material choices were in stark contrast with her subject matter, as she worked with traditional craft materials such as yarn and wood. Donnan also worked on completing a small publication representing her practice in the form of the 19th century chapbook. Donnan also hosted a workshop called “Folklore for an Unimagined Future”, and hosted two exhibitions.

A true 21st Century artist, Donnan’s exploration of various media seeks to understand human nature through migratory systems, network theory, and poetics, embracing both folk crafts (such as crocheted blankets) and state-of-the art technologies (such as Google Earth). The New York Times described her piece Hudson Applique—a series of tents constructed from wood and crocheted blankets—this way: “Donnan’s colorful settlement-like installation, ‘Hudson Applique,’ are built less around personal contact. The piece is intended to refer to the history of the Hudson River, which it overlooks from a field on Water Street, with evocations of colonization and the seasonal migration of Native Americans and their struggle for land.”

Léa Donnan has presented work at MOMA PS1, LIVE: Biennial of Performance Art, the Internationale Cité des Arts Paris and the International Symposium of Electronic Art in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During 2015 her Appliqué series was exhibited in Australia and the United States, her video Articulated Line was transmitted into outer space and she was commissioned to create work for Cosmic Love Wonder Lust, a survey exhibition of the Imperial Slacks Artist Collective at Sydney College of the Arts and Campbelltown Arts Center, where she was an artist in residence.