DONALD KEEFE Representation Website CV
Chattanooga, TN | Painting, Drawing
Donald Keefe was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up in Southern California. He has lived and worked all over the country, from rural Appalachian Kentucky and West Virginia, to Miami, FL, Los Angeles, and New York city. He has lived just outside of Chattanooga, TN since 2015, where he serves as Associate Professor of Art at Southern Adventist University. He and his wife have one child and a second on the way.
Donald earned an MFA from the University of Florida in 2013 after having received his BFA from the University of Kentucky in 2009. His artwork has been exhibited nationally, won awards, and been published in a variety of books and periodicals. He has also completed private commissions and was the recipient of a federal grant for a public arts project.
He feels the greatest thing he has learned from his varied life experiences is to empathize with others and maintain faith and hope through trying situations.
My artwork seeks to express feelings of uncertainty and hope. I attempt to convey this through the visual tensions between hard edged regular forms such as blocks, and their disordered arrangement. This tension is heightened through various lighting and color schemes. Architectural, landscape, and art historical forms inform my subject matter.
I am drawn to structures that are collapsed, abandoned, or under construction as symbols for hubris, failure, and the persistence to 'try again' in life. Sometimes I compare or contrast these structures to forms I associate with my personal search for spiritual faith, hope and purpose. These forms could be abandoned ruins, mysterious rock formations of the American southwest, the great Catholic churches of Europe, or references to my jewish family background.
The use of hard edged angular forms in my paintings reflect a desire for order, control and certainty in life. However, their entangled and precarious condition suggests disorder, fragility, tentativeness, confusion and doubt.
This tension is further presented in the contrast between representational painting and the graphic, flat, or abstracted elements within each work.
I consider these artworks autobiographical but, in a way, they are also a vehicle of self-suppression. While in the studio I listen to audiobooks of history, philosophy, art, and religion. Although I’m a musician I rarely listen to music while working. I’d rather learn an obscure bit of history while focusing on making a straight level line than be distracted by thoughts of self, or memories of failures and personal losses. The architectural forms, the landscape, the contrasts between light and shadow, are all parts of myself reinterpreted in impersonal, academic, or even formalist terms. For me, art making is part of a ‘born again’ experience, becoming free of the burden of personal shame and guilt.