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Michele Oka Doner

Artwork Details

circa 1978
Michele Oka Doner
18 1/8 in x 4 15/16 in x 2 3/8 in (46 cm x 12.5 cm x 6 cm);18 1/8 in x 4 15/16 in x 2 3/8 in (46 cm x 12.5 cm x 6 cm)
Gift of Michele Oka and Frederick Doner

On Display

Not currently on display


March 28, 2009
Wonder at the age of the earth and the forms found throughout natural history inspires Michele Oka Doner’s beautifully shaped fossil-like ceramics. A graduate of the University of Michigan, the artist grew up in Florida collecting shells, bits of coral, and other artifacts of life along the seashore. Oka Doner’s oversized ceramic pieces of bones and seedpods highlight the aesthetic qualities of the natural world and suggest the connections of these forms to those created by artists.

Subject Matter:

During her time at UM—she is an University of Michigan alumna: B.A. 1966 and M.F.A. 1968—Michele Oka Doner began to collect objects and learn about African and pre-Columbian art and cultures. Taking inspiration from both the natural world and also non-western cultural practices, in this work Oka Doner presents a ceramic bone, like the burial and totemic objects she had learned about in art history classes. Her sculptures strive to fascinate in the way objects from natural history do, like fossils, shells or old bones. The femur bone is the longest and strongest bone in the human body, and therefore, she combines the aesthetics of organic line and form with the symbolic strength of the subject matter. 

Physical Description:

This ceramics sculpture is in the shape of a femur bone. The glazing creates a series of dark cracks and fissures. 

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