Donna Troy Cleary

Donna Troy Cleary uses Art and Herbalism to reflect on the ways of the ancient Irish Healer, Wild Woman, "Witch" - a derogatory word used to eliminate powerful Healers.  Her art takes the form of sculpture, video, photography, social practice and Herbalism, which allows her to fully flesh out this role while referencing her past as a Registered Nurse. 

Donna is interested in traditional healing practices.  As a descendent of Irish Herbalists, she reclaims knowledge that was scrubbed from her familial consciousness under British occupation. Her adult life started as an Registered Nurse, 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 at Columbia University and The School of Visual Arts. In 2014.  She received an MFA in Fine Arts from The School of Visual Arts.

Coming full circle, she is now a Level III Apprentice Herbalist, focusing on the belief systems, rituals, ceremonies and objects that accompany medicinal vehicles along with running Spiral Herbal Remedies Shop (see the link above).  She creates fertility sculptures and ceremonial objects from crocheted yarn with both contemporary and 1950's-era domestic paraphernalia, comingling the Feminine Mystique, Pagan Goddess Symbolism with a culture of planned obsolescence.  In these gestures she re-empower that political space and reclaims her history.  Fertility is about reproduction but also refers to the cycles of life and death, the landscape, regeneration, the necessity of both male and female energy and abundance.

Cultural anthropological investigations restore and affirm the inherent power of the feminine and the unseen labor of the domestic space. Perceived boundaries between instinct and cultural construct are questioned as her work hovers between the physical and psychological, external and internal, past and present, mythic and real.  

Humor and tactility are an integral part in this work. Humor is a way around opposition: it sneaks knowledge and wisdom in through a back door, without threat. Often it is through touch that humor hits home. When encountering this work, it is tempting to squeeze it but art has set a precedent, one must ask permission.  When granted, suggestions of the body, giddy childhood humor and desire collide. 

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