Career-Spanning Exhibition of Work by Michele Oka Doner Opens at Pérez Art Museum Miami

Five Decades of Art Track the Miami Native’s Singular Career

MIAMI – March 17, 2016 – Beginning March 24, 2016, Pérez Art Museum Miami will present Michele Oka Doner: How I Caught a Swallow in Midair. Oka Doner is a Miami native whose work has been presented around the globe since the 1960s. The exhibition will be on view through September 11, 2016. The robust selection of artworks included in the exhibition span the duration of Oka Doner’s career and highlight major moments in her artistic development, revealing the lasting influence of the natural world on her practice. How I Caught a Swallow in Midair is organized by former PAMM Director Thom Collins, and coincides with the premier of the Miami City Ballet’s presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with costumes and sets designed by the artist.

How I Caught A Swallow in Midair takes its name from a 1990 cyanotype, in which Oka Doner captured an organic abstract shape that could be easily mistaken for a swooping Swallow. In this work and others, the artist’s simple gestures transform aspects of the natural world—present but otherwise overlooked in day-to-day life—into poetic works of art. Handmade pieces blend with naturally occurring materials—porcelain resembling volcanic stone, stone resembling seashells, bronze sculpted into brambles and branches—while works on paper show the human figure made up of plants and other organic materials. Each of the roughly three-dozen pieces illustrates a pivotal turn in the artist’s career and was chosen in close collaboration between the artist and curator, making the exhibition an intimate portrait of her development over five decades. 

“This exhibition highlights the way our museum is always connecting the global with the local: Michele is an artist whose work has been celebrated internationally, but who grew up in our community and whose work draws on the natural environment that defines our city,” says PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans.

Michele Oka Doner was born and raised in Miami Beach, and studied at the University of Michigan. Over the past five decades, she has created sculpture, public art, prints, drawings, artist books and video, as well as costume and set design. She is well known for creating numerous public art installations throughout the United States, including Radiant Site at New York’s Herald Square subway, Flight at Washington’s Reagan International Airport, and A Walk on the Beach at the Miami International Airport, one of the largest public artworks in the world.

Oka Doner’s work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Musée des Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The Dallas Museum of Art; the St. Louis Art Museum; the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and elsewhere.

Organization and Support
Michele Oka Doner: How I Caught a Swallow in Midair is organized by Thomas Collins, former PAMM director and current executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation. The exhibition is presented by Buccellati with additional support from The Related Group. Additional support for the exhibition catalogue was provided by Marlborough Gallery, New York and George Lindemann. 
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About Pérez Art Museum Miami
Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) promotes artistic expression and the exchange of ideas, advancing public knowledge and appreciation of art, architecture and design, and reflecting the diverse community of its pivotal geographic location at the crossroads of the Americas. A 29-year-old South Florida institution formerly known as Miami Art Museum (MAM), Pérez Art Museum Miami opened a new building, designed by world-renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron, in Downtown Miami’s Museum Park on December 4, 2013. The facility and is a state-of-the-art model for sustainable museum desin and progressive programming and features 200,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor program space with flexible galleries; shaded outdoor verandas; a waterfront restaurant and bar; a museum shop; and an education center with a library, media lab and classroom spaces. For more information, please visit, find us on Facebook (, or follow us on Twitter (@pamm).


Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. Support is provided by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners. Additional support is provided by the City of Miami and the Miami OMNI Community Redevelopment Agency (OMNI CRA). Pérez Art Museum Miami is an accessible facility. All contents ©Pérez Art Museum Miami. All rights reserved.
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