Donna Conklin King: MVA Open Studios

Manufacturers Village Artist Studios, located in an 1880’s historic industrial complex at 356 Glenwood Avenue in East Orange, NJ, will feature the work of over 60 different artists at its annual open studios weekend, Friday 10/15 (VIP Preview) and Saturday thru Sunday from 11-5, 10/16 and 10/17.

Donna Conklin King is a Sculptor living and working in Essex County, New Jersey. Her Public Sculpture and Mosaic work can be found at The Wildflower Sculpture Park in The South Mountain Reservation, and the Turtleback Zoo in Essex County, New Jersey. She is the recipient of a Fellowship in Sculpture from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Creative Capital Professional Development Program recipient and a Vermont Studio Center Residency. Her work is in multiple private and public collections including the Artist Book Collection at the Museum of Modern Art, the Newark Public Library Special Collections and Skidmore College Art Collection. Donna has a Bachelor of Science in Studio Art from Skidmore College and MFA in Sculpture from Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of Art.

Tell me about yourself and your art

I loved working with plaster until I met concrete. Besides being an important construction material, it is versatile, with many formulas for different applications. It can be pigmented, stained, cast or formed. I take patterned objects such as plastic food containers, lace doilies and tin ceiling tiles, and I cast concrete forms from them. I love patterns found in plastic food containers and their potential to symbolically speak about the body as well as the environment. Doilies resemble Mandalas; symbols of the universe, and Tin ceiling tiles represent the boundaries of our quarantine lives while also connecting us to history.

What will we see in your studio?

When you come to my studio you will see a giant concrete sky. It’s a six by twenty-foot wall sculpture, made up of fifteen two by four-foot panels. It looks like a giant watercolor Sky on a Tin ceiling, but it is actually made from fiberglass reinforced concrete, with acid stains and silver leaf. I am putting the finishing touches on it right now for my solo show at Monmouth Museum. You will also see some work from my new fabric cast series. These pieces are cast from various types of fabric or plastic backed fabric that are sewn into molds and then cast in concrete. Some appear to be soft tufted cushions, but are hard concrete. Sometimes the fabric gets left behind in the concrete leaving a surprise textured surface. I will have “Monument to Healing” in the studio in this time of Covid, along with other smaller wall-works hanging that are cast from salad and cake containers and reference the body. Finally, I will have some drawings and abstract monotype prints that use doilies and patterns in soft colors and silver or gold leaf.