Friday, September 21, 2018

Match of the Matriarchs

The Cephalopods

Match of the Matriarchs: Donna Dodson
October 3 - November 4, 2018 at the Boston Sculptors Gallery

Featuring guest artists Daniel Meirom, Jennifer Shahade & Kledia Spiro

First Friday Reception: October 5, 5-8pm
7pm "Battle of the Beasts" performance by Jennifer Shahade & Kledia Spiro

Second Sunday Concert: October 14, 4-6pm featuring Mazumal Duo

Reception and Artist Talks: Saturday, October 20, 3-5pm with Eric Sealine

First Friday Closing Reception: November 2, 5-8pm
7pm "Battle of the Beasts, Revisited" performance by Kledia Spiro

Boston Sculptors Gallery presents Match of the Matriarchs, Donna Dodson’s latest series of mysterious animal-human hybrid wood sculptures, on display October 3 through November 4, 2018. Featuring a sculpture group configured as a chess set, Dodson’s increasingly well-known female forms are carved with humor, sensitivity, and attention to the interplay of woodgrain and color.

Dodson cites the genesis of her chess set in her solo show at New Bedford Art Museum in 2016. She explained, “I created five ‘mermaids’ inspired by the history of ship prow carvings. I wanted to do more with the series, so I set myself the challenge of making an entire chess set.” This idea allowed her to build on the concept of sculptures that interact directly with each other, while reflecting on the interactions among species that have nothing to do with us humans.

Dodson delved into natural history books such as Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods by Danna Staff, Octopus: A by Sy Montgomery, and Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith. “The existence of squid was discovered due to the scars on the sides of whales,” Dodson noted. “This deep sea battle between the squid and the whale led me to create a team of cephalopods—octopus, squid and cuttlefish—battling against the cetaceans—orca, narwhal and elephant seal.”

​To learn about the game of chess, Dodson researched Birth of the Chess Queen: A History by Marilyn Yalom and Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport by Jennifer Shahade.
“The original chess set was composed of King, Vizier/General, and other male military figures,” Dodson explained. “The queen came onto the board around the same time that many powerful queens reigned in England, Russia and Spain.” Dodson reflected on that change, deciding, “My set is maternal—I am thinking about family matriarchies, the realm of power in women's lives, how women wield power and the bonds between women in families.”

The Cetaceans

Daniel Meirom is an Israeli-American filmmaker, visual artist, and new media producer. His projects include XChess, a web TV show about chess, Misery Loves Comedy, a pilot on stand-up comedians, and Nowhere Else, a TV drama for Israeli TV. His most recent film, Camden/Love/Hate tells the story of Camden, NJ through at risk high school students. He has exhibited in New York City, Saint Louis, and most recently, at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburgh, FL. For his Boston debut, Meirom collaborated with Jennifer Shahade to create new work.

Naked Chess

Jennifer Shahade is a two-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion, poker player, commentator and writer. She wrote Chess Bitch and Play Like a Girl, and co-authored Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess and Sinquefield Cup: Celebrating Five Years. Shahade is Senior Editor at, MindSports Ambassador for PokerStars, and a board member of the World Chess Hall of Fame. In Match of the Matriarchs, Shahade will exhibit videos, photographs, and an interactive chessboard developed in collaboration with Daniel Meirom and Donna Dodson. Based on a 16th century misogynist chessboard created by a disgruntled gentleman when the Queen first appeared in the game, the new board uses misogynist language from online chess forums and social media, and invites audience engagement. Shahade will challenge an opponent to a chess match Friday, October 5 in a performance piece with Kledia Spiro

Not Particularly Beautiful

Kledia Spiro creates videos, performances, installations, and paintings. Born in Albania, Kledia was a member of an Olympic weightlifting team. She uses weightlifting as a symbol of survival, empowerment, celebration, and as a vehicle for discussing women’s roles in society, immigration, and times of war.  Spiro has exhibited nationally, most notably at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Queens Museum, NY; SAIC Sullivan Galleries, Chicago; Museum of Art, University of New Hampshire; and the ProArts Gallery in Oakland, CA. Her videos and photographs will be exhibited in Match of the Matriarchs. She will perform with Jennifer Shahade on Friday, October 5 at 7pm in “Battle of the Beasts” and again at the closing reception on Friday, November 2 at 7pm in “Battle of the Beasts, Revisited.”

Battle of the Beasts
Update: ArtYOP! covered this story, "Donna Dodson and the Match of the Matriarchs" on July 28, 2018. Sampan covered this story,"Match of the Matriarchs: Donna Dodson Oct. 3rd to Nov. 4th" on Sept 6, 2018. WBUR- The ARTery featured this story " 8 Feminist Art Shows to Check Out in New England this Fall" on September 28, 2018. US Chess Federation featured this story, "Women in Chess Events and Tournaments" on October 1, 2018. New England Diary covered this story, "Matriarchal is Mass. Gallery" on October 23, 2018. Sampan featured this story "Match of the Matriarchs Exhibition and Performance Nov 2nd" on October 23, 2018. covered this story, "Match of the Matriarchs in Boston through Nov. 4th" on October 25, 2018 and the Denver Chess Club re-posted the article in their Chess news Feed.. Michael Charney captured a live chess game with his amazing photos on dropbox. Read a curatorial statement by me on the Boston Sculptors Gallery blog.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Summer News Update

Coming up in July:

Opening Wednesday July 18th
: Breath and Matter Exhibition at the Boston Sculptors Gallery featuring 24 artists and poets in collaboration. Join us for a reception with poetry readings from 5:30p-8:30p on Wed. July 18th and again on Friday August 3rd from 5:30p-8:30p. The show is up through August 12th, 2018. I collaborated with Danielle Legros Georges, the Poet Laureate of Boston and she will be reading on Wednesday July 18th. Andy Moerlein worked closely with Ernestine Hayes, the writer Laureate of Alaska. You can see a preview of their collaboration online.

Join us for a reception at Georgia Blue Gallery in Anchorage Alaska on Saturday July 21st from 1p-3p. The Myth Makers: Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein will be showing images of their Avian Avatars and discussing the process of making monumental public art using natural and recycled materials.

Newly installed: Madam President joins the Seaport Art Walk in New Bedford this year. The annual outdoor exhibition of sculpture along the waterfront is a must-see. This year's theme is Freedom and Equality. Madam President is A Monument to the First Female President of the USA and to the Dream that Every Girl Can Become The President of the USA. On view through October 2018.

If you visit New Bedford, you can see my sculpture Moby Dick near the waterfront, which is part of the Massachusetts Whale Trail, a special state wide tribute to the history of the this majestic beast and to the local whaling industry.

Also in New Bedford: Drawing on the Sacred Circle, a new bamboo installation at the Haskell Public Gardens, by Andy Moerlein.

News from the Myth Makers:

Seeking Higher Ground
An Avian Avatar by the Myth Makers : Donna Dodson & Andy Moerlein
June 2018 - December 2019
Sponsored by FLAP ( Friends of Larz Anderson Park)

An Avian Avatar by the Myth Makers : Donna Dodson & Andy Moerlein
July-September 2018 at the Sugar Bowl, South Boston
Sept.- Nov. 2018 at the Navy Yard in Charlestown
Harborwalk Artist In Residence 2018

Join us on Monday July 30th @ 7pm for an arts inspired boat cruise in the Boston Harbor! Visit for tickets. This free boat ride will feature music, performance, poetry, and participatory visual art, showcasing intergenerational and diverse expressions. Meet the Boston Harbor Artists in Residence and learn about their projects, and an all-star lineup of poets, visual artists, musicians, and dancers.

Featuring performance and art from:
-Cornell Coley: Afro-Latin percussion
-Veronica Robles: Mariachi and traditional latin dance
-Matt Parker: poetry
-Ashley Rose: poetry
-April Andrew: visual art in collaboration with youth, inspired by The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes
-Kera Washington and Zili Misik: Music bridging cultures, continents and generations
-Freedom Baird: Storytelling as it relates to sea level rise and disappearing landscapes
-The Myth Makers, Donna Dodson & Andy Moerlein: sculpture and artist talk

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Summer News Preview

Coming up this summer:

2200 Fairmount Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401


Elephant Parade by Donna Dodson, May-September 2018, at the Boston Sculptors Window Gallery, 486 Harrison Ave, Boston MA 02118. I am showing a small selection from my recent series.

Left to Right: Asian Elephant, Elephant Matador, Elephant Clown


 July 18, 2018 – August 12, 2018 

Join us for the Grand Opening on Wednesday July 18th, from 5:30 - 8:30 PM. The reception will feature readings by several participating poets including my collaborator Danielle Legros GeorgesPoet Laureate of the city of Boston,. A second reception and poetry reading will take place on August 3rd for SOWA’s First Fridays evening gallery walk. 

Save the Date... Match of the Matriarchs: Donna Dodson with guests Jennifer Shahade and Kledia Spiro at the Boston Sculptors Gallery October 3rd to November 4th. Performances on October 5th and November 2nd. I am making a chess set with battling mermaid families: The Cephalopods against the Cetaceans.

News from the Myth Makers:

Seeking Higher Ground
An Avian Avatar by the Myth Makers : Donna Dodson & Andy Moerlein
June 1st 2018 to December 31st 2019
Sponsored by FLAP ( Friends of Larz Anderson Park)

The Larz Anderson Estate is home to an ancient flock of Blue Jays. Azure blue and loquacious as 3 year olds, they have many stories to tell. Isabel Anderson was a privileged Boston socialite whose ambition and focus were global in reach. She was a world traveler who lived a life of public service. In folklore traditions, a Blue Jay is symbolic of clarity of thought, taking action. Seeking Higher Ground is a monument to the personal activism of a great woman leader.

Left to Right: Artist sketches by Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein

Seeking Higher Ground will be on view with work by Grace Knowlton and Joseph Wheelwright.

An Avian Avatar by the Myth Makers : Donna Dodson & Andy Moerlein
July-November 2018
Harborwalk Artist In Residence
South Boston & Charlestown Naval Yard

The Myth Makers, Donna Dodson & Andy Moerlein, will create "Beacon," a 20’ tall bamboo sculpture inspired by an Osprey as a tribute to Rachel Carson and her ecological restoration efforts in Boston and beyond. Osprey are a survivor and adapter in our rapidly evolving human landscape. Devastated by DDT poisoning, these skilled fish hawks are recovering from the brink of extinction, and are an inspiring example of the role humans can play in restoring balance when we engage the living world around us. The Harborwalk is a great vantage point to study these rugged birds in the Boston Harbor. 

Artist sketch by The Myth Makers

Monday, December 4, 2017

Winter News

I am pleased to announce that Heather Roy has re-opened Artana Gallery in Naples Florida and has brought my work into the new space that launched in November. If you are in the area, check out the Art and Design District, and see the work of the many talented artists she presents each month.

Left to Right: Brown Pelican, Elephant Princess, Rhino Man

Ongoing: Blue Hollomon Gallery in Anchorage, Alaska represents many gifted artists including Andy Moerlein and I. If you are in the area, drop by to see their current shows of contemporary art.

Left to Right: Red Winged Blackbird, Mama Duck, Panda Bear

Coming up at the Boston Sculptors Gallery Jan. 31st-Feb. 25th 2018 "HeART" a group exhibition and fundraiser members show featuring hot and steamy love charms for sale at affordable prices. Save the Date: Breath and Matter, a poetry and sculpture inspired group show, July-August 2018 at the Boston Sculptors Gallery featuring over 20 sculptors in collaboration with literary artist partners.

News from The Myth Makers:

“Every community has a story. Deep
in the forested wetlands of tupelo,
bald cypress, oak, and hickory is the
hidden world of the delta. Interlaced
with bayous, rivers, oxbow lakes and
sandy ridges the hardwood swamps
of the North American South
obscures one of the most persistent
extinction questions of the modern
world. Is there an elusive living ivory-
billed woodpecker to be found?”

The Myth Makers created a new work, "The Quest" for Crevasse 22 | River House, PS Satellite, a Project of Prospect 4 New Orleans. Migration: an exhibition of 25 contemporary and regional artists in the museum and sculpture garden, was curated by Jeanne Nathan, Executive Director of the Creative Alliance of New Orleans.

Also in New Orleans: The Widow's Walk joined the Avian Avatars for PS Satellite, a Project of Prospect 4 New Orleans on the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition Presented by the Helis Foundation a production of Sculpture for New Orleans.

Coming up in 2018: Look for the Myth Maker's new work in Florida, Missouri, Massachusetts and China. Look for Donna Dodson's solo work at the Noyes Museum of Art at Stockton University in New Jersey, June-Sept. 2018 and at the Boston Sculptors Gallery in Oct.-Nov. 2018.

Wishing a peaceful, prosperous, and joyful New Year to all. We are thankful for the many blessings we have received this year and we honor our dear artist friends who have passed: David Lang (1941-2017), Gary Haven Smith (1948-2017) and Boaz Vaadia (1951-2017).

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Autumn News

This summer was full of international travel and art making in Denmark and Taiwan. 

In June, The Myth Makers built the Widow's Walk in New Bedford, Massachusetts for the Seaport Art Walk. The concept for the Seaport Art Walk this year is Sustainable Oceans and it is curated by Jessica Bregoli. Our piece is called the Widow's Walk and it is a mythical cormorant figure of a widow contemplating the uncertain future of our oceans in much the same way as sailor's spouses used to anticipate their return. We used recycled black plastic to simulate to the cormorant's black feathers and to draw attention the gyre and the pollution of our oceans with plastic waste that threatens sea life and the sustainability of our fisheries. This piece is on view through October. 

The Widow's Walk, 20 ft tall 2017, bamboo, saplings, wire,
recycled plastic, wire mesh, zip ties

In July, Andy Moerlein and I went to Ringkobing Denmark to participate in the 2017 International Woodsculpture Symposium along with nine talented artists: Watch a timelapse of the project.

Mrs. Donna Dodson, USA
Mr. Janos Drienyovszki, Hungary

Mr. Thomas Lüscher, Switzerland
Mr. Nikolay Martinov, Bulgaria

Mrs. Laura Guzmàn Mèndez
Mr. Toomas Mitt, Estonia
Mr. Andy Moerlein. USA
Mr. Kuldar Moor, Estonia

Mr. Otto Pilgaard, Denmark
Mrs. Maria Christina Rommel, Argentina
Mr. Ormar Tamm, Estonia

Artscope featured my experiences in the current issue of the magazine, Andy Moerlein shared his experiences on the Boston Sculptors Gallery blog and we made an appearance on Danish TV!

The Danish Baby Bringer, 9ft tall, oak, 2017

Andy Moerlein's "Scholar's Rock" 9 ft tall, oak, 2017

In August, The Myth Makers were invited to be the Artists in Residence at the Keelung National Museum of Marine Science & Technology in Taiwan. Organized by Jane Ingram Allen, this International Marine Environment Art Project invites artists from the USA, Europe and Taiwan to complete monumental public works that connect art and science. 

We worked with three groups of volunteers to complete our project on site. We also worked with the local students at the Keelung National Senior High School and shared our process of art making. We used a puppet making curriculum where each student made two animal headed avatars, one representing their favorite animal self and one representing a secret animal self. Then the students wrote myths and stories and acted out plays with their puppet avatars. On the last day we worked in teams demonstrating bamboo techniques and the students built a bamboo environment at the center of their school campus.

During the month long residency, our own sculpture transformed from its original idea into something new and site specific. We arrived eager to learn more about bamboo as a sculpture medium. We had visions of continuing our globe embracing mission to advocate for sustainable ocean resources. We expected to build a twin to our New Bedford MA Widow's Walk. 

We began conversations about fishermen and our American whaling traditions. We talked about the architecture and dress of 18th Century America with our Taiwanese hosts and friends. We could not seem to reach a clear understanding. When we mentioned cormorants, they were puzzled. This was not a familiar bird. We found ourselves with a lot of ideas that perhaps did not belong.

We built a majestic female figure using bamboo techniques learned from Keelung's 85 year old Bamboo Master. We asked everyone we encountered in the ocean side fishing village,"What bird symbolizes the vast ocean ecology?" The Albatross stood out. The albatross is sometimes used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse. This is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798). The albatross is a natural anomaly - a bird that flies all the world's oceans on wings that are up to 12 feet (3.3 meters). The albatross chick can stay at sea for up to five years before finding their way home to begin a lifelong mating. Birds that lose their mates do not breed again. A majestic and storied bird, the albatross was just the poetic symbol we sought for our work at NMMST in Keelung Taiwan: Watch the brief project video.

The Intrepid Albatross, 20 ft tall, 2017
bamboo, wire ties, recycled rubber, mirrors

She stands facing the sea, like generations of sailor's wives. The Intrepid Albatross is optimistic for the ocean's future bounty, yet she feels uncertain about the sustainability of this massive rich resource. Like the Myth Makers, she believes in a world where all nations contract together to protect and celebrate the sea's vitality. This is one of a series of monumental temporary sculptures in a globe embracing project by The Myth Makers.