The Artist Residency program was initiated in 2014 to foster creative responses to Manitoga that invoke Russel Wright's legacy of creative experimentation and celebration of place.

Close Your Physical Eye by Michele Oka Doner

Manitoga announces year six of our Artist Residency Program with Close Your Physical Eye by acclaimed artist Michele Oka Doner, a site-specific installation of sculpture and large-scale monoprints.

On view with Tour Participation May 10 - November 11, 2019 and during special programs and events. Purchase Tickets at BrownPaperTickets.com


The Highlands Current
Natural Forces by Alison Rooney, May 10, 2019
Wag Mag
One With Nature by Georgette Gouveia, July 1, 2019
In Residence: Michele Oka Doner

The primal, elemental force of Fire and its diminished role in contemporary society have long held Michele Oka Doner’s artistic attention, and she continues her quest at Manitoga. An ancient trunk she foraged from Manitoga’s woodlands will transform through fire into a darkened bronze Burning Star with sixteen points of candle light. Burning Star will occupy the massive hearth of Dragon Rock’s living room – “I have made the room like a cave,” explained Wright“The fireplace is literally the burning heart of the house.” With cave and fire come art and ritual. Says Oka Doner, “The ritual of daily life is important. I made ceremony of lighting fire in the hearth, serving a meal.” At Manitoga, Wright likewise found dignity and poetry in daily rituals from gathering with family and friends around the table and near the fire to long walks in the woodland forest where he communed with the “eternal forces of nature.” 

On an autumnal woodland walk, Oka Doner gathered from Manitoga’s forest floor the bark of once mighty hemlock trees – felled by years of blight. From these remains have emerged her gods and goddesses – bark becomes skin, expressively alive in six larger-than-life textured monoprints on handmade paper, also derived from bark. Oka Doner’s powerful, soulful figures alternate between poised balance and graceful motion. Poetically named Homer, Nightfall, Issue, Coercion, Nexus and Constellation, these forest ancestors encircle the viewer in the west gallery. Manitoga’s Executive Director Allison Cross asks “Are they sentinels protecting Manitoga, our place of great spirit, or seers portending an uncertain future?” Given Oka Doner’s great belief in humanity and its steady march toward enlightenment, their message seems one of hope.

A Member Opening Celebration is scheduled for Saturday June 8, 5 - 7pm.



Marlborough Gallery, April 3 - April 27, Recent Monoprints by Michele Oka Doner

TEFAF New York Cultural Program, May 6, 11am-12pm: Forces of Nature. Panel
David Collens, Director, Storm King Art Center and Michele Oka Doner, artist. Moderator
Carrie Rebora Barratt, President and CEO, New York Botanical Garden

The Louisville Orchestra, Song of the River, May 10: world premier of an original score and music by Director Teddy Abrams. Illustrations of the 14 cantos by Oka Doner for book publication.

The New York Botanical Garden, June 12, Ecstatic Nutrition, The Trees in My Life, Michele Oka Doner


Michele Oka Doner is an internationally renowned American artist and author whose work is fueled by a lifelong study and appreciation of the natural world, from which she derives her formal vocabulary. Her artistic production encompasses sculpture, prints, found objects, drawings, poetry and language, functional objects, books, costumes, sets, video and other media. She has created over 40 public and private permanent art installations, including "A Walk on the Beach," composed of more than 9,000 bronzes embedded in terrazzo with mother-of-pearl on the concourse of Miami International Airport. At one and one quarter linear miles, it is one of the largest artworks in the world. Other recent exhibitions include "SoulCatchers," approximately 400 shamanistic sculptures in the kiln room at the Nymphenburg Porcelain manufactory, Munich Germany; "How I Caught A Swallow in Mid-Air," at the Perez Art Museum Miami; and "Feasting on Bark," Marlborough Gallery, New York. Oka Doner’s work is found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Musée des Arts Décoratifs (the Louvre), the Victoria & Albert, University of Michigan, Yale and Harvard University museums, and The Detroit Institute of Arts, among others. She was recently named the 2019 Artist-In-Residence at the New York Botanical Garden. 


Lead Sponsors / David McAlpin & Nanci Heller McAlpin, William Burback & Peter Hofmann, Marilyn & Jim Simons

Sponsors / Tom Krizmanic, Gary & Laura Maurer              

Supporters / Robert Aresty, Sidney Babcock & José Roméu, Allison Cross & Henry Nye, Doug & Ellen DeNicola, David Diamond & Karen Zukowski, Lyn & John Fischbach, Melissa Meyers & Wilbur Foster, Dick Polich & Cathy Kuttner Polich, Frederic C. Rich, Bill Roos & Scott Olsen, Alison Spear, Aleta Wolfe

Artist Residency Program support also provided by the Manitoga Leadership Council and Design Circle, Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, PCLB Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.



Photos: Woodland trunk to be bronzed at Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry;  Oka Doner at Wildwood Press, St. Louis, MO, January 2019; Monoprints at Wildwood Press