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Opening Reception: Houses and the Night Sky: The Art of Donna Dennis

Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House announces a solo exhibition by award-winning artist Donna Dennis, who now lives and works in Clermont, NY. A pioneer of the 1970s architectural sculpture movement in an art scene dominated by men, Dennis is best known for her bold installations of scaled down urban structures that stand in for the human presence. Her subject is not pure architecture or sculpture but portals to a metaphorical journey through life. Curated by Carrie Feder and featuring new and earlier work including drawings, sculpture, studies of past projects, studio ephemera, and selected writings, Houses and the Night Sky: The Art of Donna Dennis represents the artist’s response to a new life in rural Upstate New York and the creative journey she took to get here. Houses and the Night Sky: The Art of Donna Dennis opens with a reception with the artist and curator on Saturday, October 14 from 5-7pm and is on view through November 26, 2023. For more information, visit hudsonhall.org or call (518) 822-1438.Having lived in New York City since the mid-sixties, much of Dennis’s work deals with the imagery of urban life and the built environment including economic displacement, the effects of which culminated in her move from the city in 2019 to the Hudson Valley just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Her subject matter is all the more relevant now. Dennis’s latest work is a response to the solace of nature: its sounds, sights, and the eternal questions of life, death and transference brought by the deep night sky. One of Dennis’s tourist cabin-inspired sculptures (first created in the 1970s) is also featured in the exhibition. Studies of past projects, ephemera that has informed and inspired her work through the years and some of her personal journals (which she has kept since the mid-1960s) will also be on display. Dennis is a prolific and expressive writer, and quotes from her writings will be incorporated as descriptions of her works.The exhibition coincides with the recent release of Donna Dennis: Poet in Three Dimensions (Monacelli Press). A short documentary film by Kate Taverna is also due to be released in the coming months, as is Writing Toward Dawn: Selected Journals 1969 – 1982, edited by Nicole Miller.ABOUT DONNA DENNISDennis is one of a small group of groundbreaking women—including Alice Aycock, Jackie Ferrara and Mary Miss—who pushed sculpture toward the domain of architecture in the early 1970s. Deborah Everett writes in Sculpture Magazine, “When Donna Dennis created her earnest, plain-spoken Tourist Cabins at the outset of her career, they had the impact of cultural icons.” Drawing from overlooked fragments of rural and urban vernacular American architecture, her sculptures—tourist cabins, hotels, subway stations, roller coasters—have represented stopping places on the journey through life.Dennis has had solo exhibitions at The Brooklyn Museum, the Neuberger Museum, the Sculpture Center, and Holly Solomon Gallery, among others. Her work has also appeared in group exhibitions including the Venice Biennale, the Whitney Biennial, the National Academy Museum, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Walker Art Center, MOMA P.S. 1, Tate Gallery, ICA London, and Ludwig Forum fur Internationale Kunst in Aachen, Germany, among others. A frequent collaborator, Dennis has worked with poets Anne Waldman, Kenward Elmslie, Daniel Wolff and Ted Berrigan and with performance artist/puppeteer Dan Hurlin.Donna Dennis’s work is in prominent collections including the Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Art Museum, the Microsoft Collection, the Walker Art Center, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, the Indianapolis Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Neuberger Museum, and the Martin Z. Margulies Collection. Permanent public art commissions are located at John F. Kennedy Airport, P.S. 234, Queens College in NYC, and at the Wonderland MBTA Station in Boston. Grants and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, several National Endowment Fellowships, and Pollock-Krasner Foundation grants.In recent years she received the prestigious Artists’ Legacy Foundation Award, the Merit Award in Sculpture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Anonymous Was a Woman Award. She was elected to the National Academy of Design in 2010 and is Professor Emerita at Purchase College, SUNY. She lives and works in Clermont, NY.ABOUT CARRIE FEDER (Curator)Carrie Feder is curator of the exhibition. Feder has an extensive background in art, historic preservation, and compatible design as well as environmental activism. As a Trustee at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, she spearheaded the effort to research and recreate the historic interiors and is part of the team that created the Parlors, an immersive experience where history meets multimedia technology. Feder has curated many art exhibits that juxtapose historic artifacts with contemporary art on such topics as the clash of cultures in the early Hudson Valley, ICE, and the suffrage movement at the Athens Cultural Center in Athens, NY, and most recently at the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild-Kleinert/James Center for the Arts in Woodstock, New York. Feder has been a fan of Dennis’s work since her college days at Brown University.Images (top to bottom):

Study for Little Tube House and the Night Sky #1. 2014. Gouache on paper.  18” x 24.” Photo by Etienne Frossard.

Tourist Cabins on Park Avenue (detail). 2007. Vinyl on wood, metal, wallpaper, incandescent light. 6’6” x 4’6” x 6’. Photo by Peter Mouss ESTO

Diorama 6.  2021. Mixed Media.  20 1/4” x 24 1/4” x 12” . Photo by Donna Dennis.


Oct 14 2023


5:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Hudson Hall
Hudson Hall
327 Warren Street, Hudson NY
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