MCA Denver Presents TARA DONOVAN: FIELDWORK Exhibit Preview

Untitled, 2008. Ink on paper, 51 7/8 x 42 5/8 in.

Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) will present Tara Donovan: Fieldwork. The exhibition, the artist’s first museum presentation in almost a decade, celebrates American artist Tara Donovan’s distinct and varied practice and will occupy the entire museum. MCA Denver says, “Often known for her transformation of neutral or mundane materials like drinking straws, rubber bands, and index cards into elaborate, mind-bending objects that evoke the natural world or other organic material, Donovan’s work in many ways is about work. She manipulates a material over and over again to see what it is capable of becoming, where it might lead, and how it will migrate from an object of practical use to something surreal or sublime.” As curator Nora Burnett Abrams notes, “the impact of Donovan’s work is implicitly tied to the fact that her materials are plucked from the everyday world and therefore are embedded with meaning from within our own everyday experience.”

The exhibition brings together for the first time both two- and three-dimensional work from the last two decades to demonstrate how Donovan experiments with and reworks a material, while also engaging with space and light in new ways. “Tara Donovan is like a magician, there is no other way to describe it. She takes straws, cups, and paper plates beyond a boundary that no one else can even see. It is like the portal to a new dimension,” writes Adam Lerner, Mark G. Falcone Director and Chief Animator at MCA Denver.

This retrospective shows how the artist re-imagines everyday materials like plastic straws, index cards, rubber bands, Slinkys, and Mylar. The MCA Denver says that “A remix of older and recent works will open up new areas of dialogue within her practice and enable viewers to make connections across time and subject matter. The exhibition is about how, through labor (especially repetitive action), order and structure can give way to the unpredictable, where reason yields to faith, and the mundane cedes to the marvelous—truly employing the creative act to seduce visually and, in doing so, override what we know to be factual.”

Tara Donovan: Fieldwork is on view from September 22, 2018 to January 27, 2019. The exhibition is curated by Nora Burnett Abrams, Ellen Bruss Curator at MCA Denver. Join us for the opening celebration on September 21, 6PM-MIDNIGHT.


The accompanying publication will include three critical essays by leading scholars of contemporary art that address issues of labor, scale, formalism, and other key questions raised by Donovan’s work. Co-published with Rizzoli Electa, the catalogue’s contributors include Nora Burnett Abrams, Ellen Bruss Curator at MCA Denver, Jenni Sorkin, Associate Professor, History of Art & Architecture, University of California at Santa Barbara, and Giuliana Bruno, Emmet Blakeney Gleason Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University.

Untitled, 2014. Styrene index cards, metal, wood, paint and glue,12 ft 5 1/2 in x 22 ft 4 in x 22 ft 11 1/2 in.


Tara Donovan (born, 1969 in New York) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BFA from the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design (Washington, D.C.) in 1991, and her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA) in 1999. She received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Award in 2008, and the first annual Calder Prize in 2005. Numerous museums have mounted solo exhibitions of Donovan’s work including the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2004 and 2009), the St. Louis Art Museum (2006), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2007-2008), the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2008), the Indianapolis Museum of Art (2010), the Milwaukee Art Museum (2012), the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark (2013), the Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen, Germany (2014), the Parrish Museum, Watermill, NY (2015) and Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, Scotland (2015). Her work is included in the collections of major institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among many others.

Untitled (Mylar), 2011. Mylar and hot glue, dimensions variable, site-specific installation.
Haze, 2005. Translucent plastic drinking straws, dimensions variable.


September 22, 2018 - January 27, 2019


Courtesy of the artist, Pace Gallery and MCA Denver


Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

1485 Delgany St

Denver, CO 80202


General Admission (Free) - Members and Children + Teens (Under 6-18)
$8 - Adults (Except $5 after 5pm Tues-Friday)
$5 - College Student (w/ ID), Senior 65+ and Military

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