Donna Cleary's interest lies in traditional healing practices. A descendent of Irish Healers, she reclaims knowledge that was scrubbed from her familial consciousness under British occupation and its oppressive practices, which eventually led to her family's emigration during the famine. Donna's adult life started as an RN working in a major teaching hospital in Boston. After 13 years, she left to raise two children while studying and making art. In 2010 she returned to school, studying undergraduate art and then received her MFA in Fine Arts in 2014.
Coming full circle, she is now a trained herbalist, focusing on the belief systems, rituals, ceremonies and objects that accompany medicinal vehicles. Creating fertility sculptures from crocheted yarn and 1950's era domestic paraphernalia she comingles the Feminine Mystique with Pagan Goddess Symbolism. With this, she reclaims her history as a place of power. Fertility is not just about reproduction but also refers to the cycles of life, death and regeneration.
Donna also uses video, photography and social practice to reflect on the ways of the ancient Healer, Wild Woman, "Witch". Cultural anthropological investigations restore and affirm the inherent power of the feminine and the unseen labor of the domestic space.
Donna's work questions perceived boundaries between instinct and cultural construct. Heterotopic spaces are engaged as her work hovers between the physical and psychological, external and internal, past and present, mythic and real.
Guided by instinct and necessity, mistakes, chance, and the accidental become part of these playful explorations that hover between pathos and humor.
"I see the wise woman... From her shoulders, a mantle of power flows. A story band encircles her forehead. She stitches a quilt; she spins fibers into yarn; she knits; she sews; she weaves. She ties the threads of our lives together..."
Healing Wise, Susun S. Weed