2002 - metal: bronze
“[Michele Oka Doner’s] figures are deeply rooted in nature, and nature takes root in her figures…” Donald Kuspit, 2008. Growing up in Miami, Oka Doner lived mere blocks from the ocean, allowing her a multitude of chances to sneak down to the water’s edge to collect treasures that caught her eye, pocketing them and taking them home with her. This, she states, was “the beginning of what I’d call a lifetime romance, certainly a relationship.” The opportunity of communing with nature has influenced Oka Doner’s art for four decades. These morsels from nature appear repeatedly in her work, whether they are figures, installations such as that at the Miami International Airport, or her porcelain Soul Catchers. Like two ancient and time-honored sentries, Eve # 1 and Venus #1 stand authoritatively at the edge of the Pergola walkway. The two female figures are named for historical and mythical icons: one a biblical woman who succumbed to human urges, the other a goddess associated with love, beauty and fertility. The forms and textures of Eve # 1 and Venus # 1 were inspired by two extraordinary configurations of coral, found by the artist on the shore in Miami Beach. These fragments had been touched by the elements, rolling around in the wind and surf, tumbled smooth with softened corners. Oka Doner brought the samples back to her studio and began to shape wax models, responding to the sensuous quality of line created by both the patterned growth of the coral polyps and the affects of ocean currents. The artist wanted to imply the endless motion of large bodies of water filling these hollow, coral-textured “human” vessels. The artist has stated expressively, “I speak another language, not of the tongue, but of the eye.” As a viewer, you can see Oka Doner’s connection to nature coming through in the soft edges, and eloquent natural forms of her figures created nearly forty years after her inception as an artist. Quoted from Joy Hakanson Colby, "Sculptor Transforms The Mundane Into The Mythological," The Detroit News, April 11, 1990.