Thursday, February 19, 2009

Christa Donner

Christa Donner is a multimedia artist who will be working onsite at the museum on Tuesday March 3, 2009 from 11am - 7 pm.

Christa Donner explores issues of women's health and body image through her ink and collage works on paper, comics, and large-scale wall drawings. Through public projects and collaborative zines, Donner exchanges stories of bodily experience to provoke dialogue both in the art world and beyond it. Her inquiry transforms anxiety and misunderstanding into personal, magical, powerful re-visions of alternative anatomies. To see more of her work, check out her website:

1. Could you describe an average day in the studio? Do you have any routines
Usually I've got three or four drawings going at different stages at any given time, so I'm less likely to overwork things. While one thing is drying I'll start working into other drawings. Some get cut up into parts that I use elsewhere... recombined into other drawings-in-progress. My zines come together in a similar way, with editing and moving bits around, both on the computer and physically, with glue and scissors and paper.

2. What do you collect and how does it inspire you?
Lots of printed matter: pop-up books, zines, comics, old medical and scientific illustrations.

3. What do you like to listen to/watch while creating?
It depends. Sometimes I work well in silence, but usually music helps keep me focused and moving. Octopus Project, old Kitty Wells albums, Missy Elliott ... I have a pretty eclectic music library.

4. What are some of your favorite websites/blogs to visit?
I'm always checking out "We make money not art"... especially the activism section ( and "Guerrila Innovation" ( There's always something interesting going on there. ( is one of my all-time favorite zine resources.
Small Science Collective ( is always evolving with biology-themed science tracts... and I'll sheepishly admit that I'm on Facebook far too often, God help me.

5. What would you consider to be Chicago’s best kept secret?
Not such a "secret," but I love the Music Box Theatre for the twinkling stars, the velvet curtains, and the organist who glides out of view before the movie's about to start.

6. What is your favorite piece in the MCA collection?
I'm a big fan of the amazing perspectival Sarah Sze installation. It's so fantastic in terms of how it shifts your perception of scale - of the gallery in relation to the everyday objects that make up the piece, yourself in relation to the the city outside...

7. What do you do in your studio when you are procrastinating?
I have such an e-mail addiction that I don't allow myself to bring the laptop in there... so instead I read the magazines and books I use for image source material, or take a nap on the floor. It feels wasteful, but sometimes it can actually be a useful part of the process to take that time, to come across things I'm not looking for directly. But e-mail, man. It's deadly. Turn that shit off.

8. Who (living or dead) would you invite to a cocktail party?
I'd invite my friends Margaret and Michelle, because they'd help me turn it into a dance party.

9. Do you keep a sketchbook?
Oh yeah. It's so important! The sketchbook is my portable mini-studio: a place to process all the visual and auditory information I come across so I can refer back to it later.

10. What's the last great book you read?
Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home, " is pretty brilliant. Now I'm getting back into Octavia Butler.

11. What do you do when you hit a creative block?
I usually go back to a visual brainstorming process I learned as a college student: I sit down with a stack of paper and a timer and start making five-minute drawings. I'll do anywhere from ten to fifty of these, depending on how much studio time I have that day, setting variables of size, materials, or other constraints before I start. By the end of it I'll have a big pile of things, and most of them will be crap -- but there are always a couple that point to ideas or imagery worth exploring further.

12. If you weren’t an artist what would you be doing?
Something that involves listening to people's stories, maybe helping them reach some sort of goal. I'd be a good counselor or an oral historian. I use a lot of the same skills in teaching college students, which I like a lot.

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