School of the Arts’ Alumni Star: Tara Donovan

Tara Donovan
1999 Master of Fine Arts
School of the Arts

Tara Donovan has been recognized for her commitment to process and has earned acclaim for her ability to discover how the inherent physical characteristics of an object enable it to be transformed into art. She has explored the multiplication of these interactions, at times utilizing hundreds of thousands — or even millions — of units to generate powerful perceptual
phenomenon and subtle atmospheric effects.

Donovan is a lesson in persistence and an example of what fruit it can bear. Not only does her work carry the mark of this virtue — as she spends countless hours assembling each piece — but so does her career. In 2000, she grabbed attention by appearing in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s biennial exhibit. Her résumé gathers together awards and recognitions in a
way that resembles her technique as a sculptor. She has appeared in 30 one-artist exhibits, 14 public collections, more than 120 periodicals, 87 group exhibits, and 49 books and exhibit catalogues.

Her work has garnered 13 grants and awards, including the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship (often referred to as the “genius grant”) in 2008. The MacArthur Foundation described Donovan
as “an inventive young sculptor whose installations bring wonder to the most common objects of everyday life.” She was one of 25 fellows to receive $500,000 over the course of five years.
Donovan was born and raised in New York. She lives and works in Brooklyn where she and her architect husband, Robbie Crawford, turned an old auto body garage into a three-story home where they live with their twin boys. Donovan maintains two separate studios, one in her house and one a few blocks away where she employs many other VCU alumni as her assistants.

“I always enjoyed the sense of community in the sculpture department when I was a student at VCU and I feel like that continues in my studio to this day,” she says.