NATHANIEL DONNETT : 100 CREATIVES 2014

30 Dec

houston press logo

100 Creatives 2014: Nathaniel Donnett, Artist

 
Categories: 100 Creatives
Unicorn275.jpg
Photo by Cipher
The Dark Imaginal by Nathaniel Donnett

It’s been a stellar year for visual artist Nathaniel Donnett. During 2014, he had his first ever solo show at a major museum with “Nothing to See Hear.” It was part of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, “Right Here, Right Now: Houston” ongoing series of exhibits and events. In support of “Nothing to See Hear,” Donnett received a 2014 Harpo Foundation grant, one of fewer than a dozen awards for the year. (By the way, the Harpo Foundation was founded by Edward Levine. Its name was inspired by Harpo Marx. It’s not related to Oprah Winfrey or her company, Harpo Productions.)He also had a solo show at the Mattatuck Museum, “Alone In My Four Cornered Room,” which closes in January 2015.

He was the subject of Rhythm & Black, a documentary by Rice University film students Paige Polk and Lydia Smith.

And most recently, Donnett was awarded a 2015 Idea Fund / Andy Warhol Foundation grant to develop his blog, Not That This, into a website supporting the critical discourse related to African American artists and other groups whose work is largely overlooked, ignored, or misunderstood by the mainstream arts press. (Donnett previously won an Idea Fund / Andy Warhol Foundation grant in 2011.)

HairPiece560.jpg
Photo by Nathaniel Donnett
The Hair Piece by Nathaniel Donnett

What he does: “Normally, I say I’m an artist. I don’t talk much about it but if I do, I say I’m an artist and I’m interested in observing people and how people interact. I personally like to critique and comment on those interactions, especially some of the more nuanced ones that people may not be paying attention to.”

Of the two actions – observing and commentating – Donnett says observing is the more important. “Observation is not only the intake of that information, whatever the information is, but it’s also the reflection on that information, the editing and determining how I want to present my take on it, how I want to reveal what I’ve got to say.”

Donnett says the act of observation isn’t an exact science. “I’m observing a person or people. I’m human. They’re human. What I think I’m seeing may not be the truth, it’s my perception of the truth and my perception is influenced by my experiences. But even if I end up commenting on something that I really didn’t see, that comment can still be relevant. It’s still real.”

Why he likes it: “I like the attention,” he laughs. “Actually I like having a voice. I like the communicative aspect of it. I like the process of observing and understanding and reflecting and communicating on something. I most enjoy when I’m in the process of creating. I’m inside this space or this zone. Being in tune with the idea is the most interesting part, it’s just me and my idea. When the work is done, it’s always a relief so I guess I could say that I like that part, too, but mostly I like finding a zone.”

What inspires him: “There’s the idea that there’s something in front of you, something beside you and something behind you. There’s a social context, an emotional context, form, instrumentation, layers and layers. When you look at a piece, you may see one thing but there’s a multitude of things going on, a multitude of layers of ideas and concepts that went into that one work.”

If not this, then what: “If I had to do something else, I would be a drummer. My ideal band would be a mix of jazz, funk and rap. When I was younger, I really liked music. I couldn’t really sing, but I liked music. I liked dancing, I liked drawing and I liked people. Those things have all resurfaced in my work but somebody else may look at a piece and not see those things.

If not here, then where: “So I have to realistic when I answer that question. There are five major art markets – LA, New York, Chicago, Texas and Miami. In LA and Texas, there’s lots of space. In New York, there’s not lots of space. So that’s one thing. The other thing is affordability. On the other side of that, I don’t have a big system of collectors here in Texas. I have it outside of Texas, but not here. So, realistically, I think I would go to California.

“On the fantasy side, I would want to go to Saturn. Sun Ra used to talk about going to Saturn; for me it would be Mars.”

What’s next: “I’ve got a group exhibition at the Arkansas Art Center. That will close out this year. After that I’ve got a few more group shows coming up, including a show called “Heart of Darkness.”

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/artattack/2014/12/100_creatives_2014_nathaniel_donnett_artist.php

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: