Haze, 2003
Photo: Hester + Hardaway

Tara Donovan
6 November - 14 December 2003

Tara Donovan’s work always begins with the properties of a single material. Typically, Donovan selects an everyday, mass-produced item that is so familiar to us that it has escaped our notice. Scotch tape, toothpicks, pencils, and clear drinking straws are among these items she has chosen as artistic media. She studies the medium’s properties and by varying the light, quantity and arrangement, she develops a set of rules that serves to contain and guide the final form. Dictated by the material’s unique properties, the installation “grows” through repetitive labor. Along with Tara, Rice students and others realized Haze through a time-consuming marathon that the artist humorously referred to as “a mechanized process without the luxury of a machine.”

Donovan calls her installations site-responsive, in that she expands, compresses, or changes their shapes in relation to the space in which she installs them. Haze occupied the entire width of Rice Gallery’s 44-foot back wall, and rose up to more than two-thirds of its 16-foot height. The work’s gently curving top edge was echoed in swellings across the surface, making it seem vaguely organic. Its form seemed familiar, yet ambiguous. At a distance, one felt that he or she was looking at a formation of encrusted minerals, a cross section of a coral reef, or wisps of a strange, opaque fog. Up close, the image sharpened and the viewer’s preconceptions changed instantly, swept away in the recognition of surprisingly familiar objects from which Haze was made. Viewed from any perspective, Haze was a beautiful and poetic presence, real yet indefinable.


Tara Donovan was born in New York City, where she lives and works. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Corcoran College of Art + Design, Washington DC, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. Solo exhibitions include Curve Series: Tara Donovan, Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (2003); Tara Donovan, Ace Gallery, New York (2003), and Tara Donovan:Whorl at The Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Hemicycle Gallery (1999). Her work, Ripple was included in the 2000 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Haze is re-created at Rice Gallery as a site-specific work courtesy of the Andrea Nasher Collection and Ace Gallery.