Domestic Patterns to Identity
Portrait of the Artist

Working closely with patterns found in domestic spaces allows Rita MacDonald to reimagine architectural details, and then integrate natural motifs into these interior spaces. The focus of her large- and small-scale works is a dialogue, sometimes tense, between two aesthetics, the constructed and the organic.

Rita MacDonald’s 2010 Sunroom Project, Duplex, harkens back to the century during which Glyndor Gallery was a private homeShe came to the project after a Winter Workspace residency in Glyndor Gallery in the same year. For the Sunroom, she created a stylized wallpaper that integrates patterns from nature with interior-decorating schemes. Using paint and plaster, she repeated the motif of a white bird throughout the space, beginning with a flat illustrated wallpaper that morphs into a subtle, low-relief projection, at once grounding and disorienting the viewer.

That mix of the constructed and the organic, says MacDonald, “brought a new understanding to me about how …to reach both people who visit art spaces often and people who don’t.” This was a lesson she has since applied to many public art commissions, including a large-scale mural for a temporary construction wall outside the site of the Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and two permanent mosaics for MTA subway stations on New York City’s Q line.

Past Sunroom Work

Duplex (2010)

Rita MacDonald, "Duplex," 2010, paint and plaster on wall, 16 x 16 x 10 1/2 feet. Courtesy of the artist.
Rita MacDonald, "Duplex," 2010. Courtesy of the artist.
Rita MacDonald, "Duplex," 2010. Courtesy of the artist.
Rita MacDonald, "Duplex," 2010. Courtesy of the artist.

"Using familiar patterns taken from domestic decoration, I’m thinking about exploring the line between the grandness of scale in public architecture and the intimacy of personal spaces."

—Rita MacDonald

For Call & Response, the fall 2017 anniversary exhibition, Rita MacDonald revisits Glyndor Gallery with her camera to capture some of the architectural details of the Georgian Revival building, many decades ago a private home. What emerges back in her studio is a series of intimate drawings of the building’s interior-design elements, her carefully crafted, graphite snapshots recalling the care and technicality of her 2010 Sunroom Project. Focusing on crown molding, mantelpieces and floorboards, the artist’s attention to detail elevates the gallery from an everyday interior into a contemplative and grounding experience―from a space that hosts art to one that is itself a work of art.

Work for Call & Response

Glyndor Gallery Details

Rita MacDonald, "Glyndor Gallery Details," Chair Rail, 2017, pencil and paper, 5 3/4 x 7 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
Rita MacDonald, "Glyndor Gallery Details," Floor, 2017, pencil and paper, 12 1/2 x 10 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

MacDonald has had a two-person exhibition at Projekt722, in Brooklyn, NY, and her work has been collected by such public institutions as Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Yale University Library, New Haven, CT; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Newark Public Library, Newark, NJ; Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, CT; Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA; Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; and Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. She expects to have a solo show at SUNY Ulster's Muroff-Kotler Visual Arts Gallery in Stone RIdge, NY, in November, 2017.

More Public Art

Rita MacDonald, "Hare Apparent," 2011, glass mosaic and ceramic tile, MTA Arts for Transit, Avenue M Station on Q Line, Brooklyn, NY. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Etienne Frossard.
Rita MacDonald, "Bird Laid Bare," 2011, glass mosaic and ceramic tile, MTA Arts for Transit, Avenue J Station on Q Line, Brooklyn, NY. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Etienne Frossard.
Rita MacDonald, Candy Stripe, 2014, paint on construction wall, Domino Sugar Factory Site, Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Courtesy of the artist.
Rita MacDonald, Candy Stripe, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.
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