Nashville, TN | Painting
Donna Woodley is a painter whose most recent works merge the examination of black culture and fine art. She decided to pursue the life goal of a working visual artist after twenty years of working as an accountant. This journey has sparked her passion for painting currently informed by discourse concerning black women and their experiences in American society. She has served as gallery assistant at Tennessee State University’s Hiram Van Gordon gallery in addition to teaching assistant at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts during her undergraduate studies. While earning her MFA, she became involved from the very beginning serving as a “Buddy” for students newly accepted into the program and as facilitator of a Critique Etiquette seminar offered to new graduate students entering the MFA program. She was also designated by her cohort to speak at January 2016's graduate ceremony where she was fortunate to receive the Spring 2016 Alumni Award. Currently, she resides in Nashville where she is emerging within the art community having participated in a number of group exhibitions. She is ecstatic and passionate about her future in the art community and looking forward to what is ahead.
Thoughts, discussions, and many healthy debates about black culture over the years are the seeds that I’ve subconsciously sewn, rediscovering them as an artist years later through a critical lens. The female figure in my paintings is confrontational towards the visibility and value of black women within American society, both historically and in a contemporary context. Studies and ideas surrounding the discourse of self-esteem and African Americans are sourced from “The Doll Test” administered by psychologists Dr. Kenneth and Mamie Clark in the 1940s to the recent “Dark Girls,” a 2011 documentary directed by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry. The enlistment of women that I know is a significant part of the process in creating portraits. The eyes are usually concealed so capturing the personality of the model devoid of the eyes is essential. Informed by stereotypes, cultural similarities and differences, perception of beauty, and esteem, my work often uses humor to create an environment conducive to healthy discourse.