Sullivan Goss
AN AMERICAN GALLERY
Celebrating 32 Years
of 19th, 20th and 21stCentury American Art
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SUSAN McDONNELL

Contemporary Magical Realist

by Susan Bush and Jeremy Tessmer

In addition to her career as a contemporary painter in the Magical Realist tradition, Susan McDonnell has taught at Art Center College of Design and Saint Mary's College.




Table Of Contents

I. Biography

II. An Analysis of the Artist's Work

The allusion to Victorian botanical illustration in McDonnell's work is inescapable without being definitive. Botany was considered one of the few sciences genteel enough for Victorian ladies to pursue. It was thought to cultivate feminine virtues and to promote gender­appropriate skills like gardening and decorating. McDonnell’s own attitude towards this history seems ambiguous at best. Her paintings all seem to have an edge – both a theatricality and a reverence for oddity that don’t conform to traditional notions of gentility. She also seems to imbue the decorative quality of her work with a sense of irony or defiance. By painting the rare and the bizarre in a traditionally decorative form and style, she subtly subverts the tradition. Painting natural curiosities in an Old World medium like egg tempera suggests a certain admiration for the original form. According to the artist, she likes tempera for the way that colors weave together like the threads in a woven cloth to create a unified field. She also likes the durability of the colors and the archival nature of the medium.

In the artist's words, "My paintings are combinations of what I perceive as real and underlying unseen elements of nature. My perceptions of nature are often defined by its patterns, delicacy and astonishingly exquisite details."

III. Education

  • 1991 MFA Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
  • 1982 BFA Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
  • IV. Exhibitions

    SOLO EXHIBITIONS

  • 2014 Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2007 Klaudia Marr Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
  • 2004 ON Gallery, South Pasadena, CA
  • GROUP EXHIBITIONS

  • 2011-2015 100 Grand Show, Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2011 Summer Group Show, Gallery Bergelli, Larkspur, CA
  • 2009 Insight/Inside LA, Jose Drudis-Biada Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2008 Contemporary Realism Invitational, Klaudia Marr Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
  • 2008 Still Lifes, Objects and Other Narratives, Klaudia Marr Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
  • 2005-2007 Contemporary Realism Invitational, Klaudia Marr Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
  • 2007 Hausguests, HAUS Gallery/ Brewery Project, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1996 Jose Drudis-Biada Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, CA
  • 1996 Secret Society of Dog Art Random Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1988-1989 Artbanque Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
  • V. Collections

  • Under Construction
  • VI. Awards

  • Under Construction
  • VII. Works for Sale by this Artist


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    Banksia Pods and Lesser Goldfinches
    Dreaming Fawn
    Grey Cockatiel
    Monarch and Milkweed
    Swallows
    Through the Back Garden
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