Professor Donna Dennis, was one of 18 distinguished artists inducted into the National Academy at a gala in New York on October 13. The master of ceremonies was Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art, former curator of MOMA, and the Venice Biennale.
Founded in 1825, the National Academy is the only institution of its kind that integrates a museum, art school, and association of artists and architects dedicated to creating and preserving a living history of American Art. It was founded by artists Samuel F.B. Morse, Asher B. Durand and Thomas Cole.
National Academicians are professional artists who are elected to membership by their peers in one of four categories: painting, sculpture, graphic arts, and architecture. Past and present members include many leading artists. Notable among them are Albert Bierstadt, Louise Bourgeois, Frederic E. Church, Chuck Close, Richard Diebenkorn, Thomas Eakins, Helen Frankenthaler, Frank Gehry, Winslow Homer, Jasper Johns, Maya Lin, I.M. Pei, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Andrew Wyeth.
Today with its museum, art school, and association of artists and architects, the National Academicians, the organization realizes its mission through a contemporary lens. It is an evolving testament to the transformative power of art where tradition is celebrated and new visionaries embraced connecting the past, present and future of American art.
Joining Professor Dennis as an Academician were: Janine Antoni, Adam Anuszkiewicz, Willard Boepple, Carroll Dunham, Garth Evans, Nancy Friese, Ann Gale, Ann Hamilton, Glenn Ligon, Melissa Meyer, Dana Schutz, Shahzia Silkander, Any Sillman, Lee Tribe, BillieTsien, Don Voisine, and Tod Williams.
Ms. Dennis began as a painter and is highly recognized for her sculptural work and architectural installations. George Melrod of Art in America called her "A poet of infrastructure. Drawing her inspiration from overlooked fragments of vernacular architecture, a subway station, a dingy bungalow, a musty old stairwell." Her work dares the viewer to interact with it on a variety of levels. She became widely known in the 1970s. She exhibited in both the Whitney Biennial and the Hirshhorn Museum's "Directions" show in 1979. She was awarded a Creative Artists Public Service grant in 1975, the first of many grants to follow, including several NEA's and a Guggenheim.
By the 1980s her work was seen internationally, including the Venice Biennale in 1982 and 1984, and theTate Gallery. While continuing to create and exhibit large architecturally inspired installations, she also completed a number of permanent public art commissions in New York and Boston. Over the years she has also collaborated with poets and performers such as Dan Hurlin.