Nicole Donnelly is a hand papermaker, painter, and installation artist. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa in 2009 and her BA from Bennington College, and she has received grants and fellowships to complete residencies at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Morgan Conservatory of Paper, Goldwell Open Air Museum, Vermont Studio Center, and Women’s Studio Workshop. Donnelly often collaborates with other artists and poets through the media of paper and paint. She is the President of the International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists (IAPMA), 2015-2021; operates the creative papermaking studio paperTHINKtank; and her artwork has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally in Brasil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Korea, Mexico, and the UK.
Ecology and environmental issues are central to my art making process. In my work, I keep a conversation between media – hand papermaking, drawing, painting, and sculpture. Imagery plays between the abstract and the representational, as I focus on the malleable relationship of the object and the image, of depth and surfaces. Handmade paper is central to this pursuit as I strive for the dissipating monument, the authorless mark. The resulting imagery is as much a response to the materials as to my ongoing concerns about sustainability and conservation of the natural world.
Through the material of paper and its raw materials -- the various plant fibers used and their roles within their found environments --, I describe my relationship to each environment I occupy. I create paper artworks using local, generally invasive, plant fibers and specific imagery to evoke a resonant memory of place. Particularly focused on ideas of shelter and sacred space, I am interested in how these spaces and structures allow us to perceive phenomena in the natural world, and also how they might remind us of our deep connection to it. While I “overwrite” the authorlessness of handmade paper each time I manipulate paper pulp for more expressive ends, the haptic experience of the paper itself is ever present, and increasingly important in a growingly digitized world.