Donna Bassin, Ph.D., is an award-winning fine art photographer, installation artist, author, professor, and filmmaker. As an artist heavily influenced by her work as a clinical psychologist and her experiences working with war veterans and at Ground Zero, Donna uses art to explore the creative edge of collective loss, grief, mourning, and transformation. She is known for her documentaries, Leave No Soldier and The Mourning After, and her photo series The Afterlife of Dolls – a solo exhibition at Montclair Art Museum that was featured on PBS’ State of the Arts and received both a Golden Bell and Gradiva Award.
Her work has been juried and shown in numerous group exhibitions stretching from New York City to Los Angeles. Her photographs have also been commissioned for book covers and are in private and museum collections.
She has recently been invited to represent New Jersey’s women artists in a public art project, Her Flag (www.herflag.com). She has additionally contributed portraits from her series, My Own Witness, to Smack Mellon Gallery for their exhibition of Bound Up Together: On the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, and to SaveArtSpace and Art4Equality for a billboard installation, both located in Brooklyn, New York.
Donna’s current projects, My Own Witness: Rupture and Repair and Precious Scars, explore the human desire for reconciliation in the wake of social fractures.
My Own Witness: Rupture and Repair
Following the 2016 presidential election, I initiated portrait collaborations between those who – through race, sexuality, gender identity, age, ethnicity, and/or disability – felt they had been deemed invisible and un-entitled to their place in this American moment. Storytelling through pose, gesture, gaze, and props, they turned themselves “inside out” to visually assert their identity and invite a visceral face-to-face encounter with their humanity. The shared black velvet background and chiaroscuro lighting create an aesthetic unity, joining the individual to the collective. In response to these presently turbulent times, I decided to use the portraits to bring physical expression to injuries brought on by the pandemic, ongoing racial and economic inequality, and other areas of present unrest. I ripped the portraits to create “wounds” that reflect our individual and collective traumas. Then, inspired by the Japanese practice of Kintsugi – which mends broken pottery by using gold lacquer to repair damage while highlighting the scars – I restored the torn portraits using golden rice paper and thread. The resulting scars remind us that we must not forget the incidents that create our wounds, but rather use them as inspiration to move forward and mend our fractured relationships with ourselves and each other.
To view more of Donna Bassin’s work please visit their website.