Donna Forma

Just before he died, architect Louis Kahn wrote a eulogy about another architect, Carlo Scarpa.  These words are what I aspire to in my work:



the first sense


the first word

then Wonder

Then the inner realization of ‘Form”

The sense of the wholeness of inseparable elements.

Design consults Nature

to give presence to the elements

A work of art makes manifest the wholeness of the ‘Form’

a symphony of the selected shapes of the elements.

In the elements

the joint inspires ornament, its celebration.

The detail is the adoration of Nature.


I am an avid gardener, so I am always looking intimately at natural forms.  I always think wherever one takes a step, whether it is out your front door or down the street, in the garden, right next to you always will be something in a small form that no one in the entire universe has seen.  It’s the idea of active looking that we all can do.  Active looking is fun, it is stimulating, it is appreciative of the world around us, and it is inspirational and can make you feel alive.  Art is bigger than we are.  Art unites souls.


My work is always evolving as natural forms do in the elements, as time goes by.  So I hardly ever feel I’ve “completed” a piece – they can keep changing as influences affect me.  Bob Dylan said it well:  “…the winds of changes shift.” (Forever Young)


My materials are natural or manmade – made to look natural.  My pieces are often types of shelters, nests, hives – all metaphors of life not knowing if the protection is really safe or a threat – as is a wasp nest, bee hive, etc.  Or they emphasizemovement of evolving as once again everything does.


In the weaving process, threading or mashing, sawing, pounding, of materials I like the insect creating my form, so that also explains why size becomes very important to me. It is my shelter, my hive my evolution that represents yours as well, which parallels how we as a society shape the evolution of our environment.  We all have a big part in the creation of what happens.


I love working and thinking not just about form but about the quality and excitement of texture.  As a result, my materials are quite varied as I love the experimentation – never really knowing if it will be successful, willing to try and excited about the possibilities.  So I move from wood to copper to glue to mica to threads to handmade papers, horsehair, dog fur, roots, seaweed, etc.


Finally, my favorite materials are actually worked with the natural elements of rain, wind, snow, ice, pulling parts outside for periods of time to meld with nature.  So in a sense not only am I working with her but “playing“ with her.


As an example, a piece entitled Algae Breast was made from string algae I harvested in my water garden.  I work with the seaweed by washing it, pressing it, putting it in the sun to work the color subtleties.  Then I made the nipple area, put it outside to weather for the winter.  As the weather became warmer, I brought it in and continued to work with its evolution – it became one ofmy favorite pieces.


Another two-part example:  if I need a particularly shaped piece of wood, I’ll go into the woods to find it, it’s there, Nature and I “play” together.  Or, I’ll walk in the woods and find something that is fantastic and it inspires in me a direction, as in “My Inning”.  It’s my inning because it’s my life – my time up at bat to shape the environment for those I love, even though I know there is no guarantee.  Once again, Nature and I “play” together.


Being a sculptor obsessed with the form, shape and texture of things, and having them convey particular emotions, I believe that our importance as individuals is put into perspective when seen in relation to nature.


Donna Forma

Artist’s Statement

Vessels of Secrets


We all carry secrets

Knowingly, unknowingly

One hardly ever unearths completely

After years of “knowing” we often learn more

Not unlike a plant, the roots and dirt

The very structure that carries the food and gives foundation

Often is not seen.


We all place such importance and seriousness

On our thoughts

Thoughts which come and go

Stream of consciousness

Some revealed

Others held

A containment

All to go back to the earth

As it should be

All, forgotten.




Moving On