Donna Usher is an extraordinary local artist and professor emerita of the Department of Art at West Chester University, PA. She has exhibited her work internationally and domestically. She was prominently featured at Stanek Gallery from November through the end of December of 2022 alongside gallery artists Deborah Fine and Carson Fox in the show "The Language of Color." Usher's art stands out because of it's ability to exude vibrancy and life.
After earning her BFA in painting and BS in art education from Moore College of Art and Design, Donna Usher went on to achieve an MFA with Honors from the University of Delaware. She has studied painting, ceramics, and sculpture in higher education settings, but her love for art first began in high school. Her art teacher was a mentor who became a great friend. In fact, she was one of the first to arrive at the opening reception of "The Language of Color" in November 2022.
In addition to being well-educated, Usher is also well-traveled. She gleans inspiration for her transcendental works from her adventures. Her passion for scuba diving, deep appreciation for the environment, and time spent in Australia studying both Aborigine dot paintings and ceramics inspired her vibrant works.
Christmas Tree Worms-Spirobranchus Giganteus, on the coral reef waving in the sea surge. The feathery crown of the worm gathers food, wafting it down to the mouth inside the coral. Image courtesy of Donna Usher
Did you know that the word 'scuba' is actually an acronym that stands for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus? Donna Usher knows first-hand. As she started to incorporate photography into her painting process, she also started scuba diving. Since her first dive in 1985, Usher has completed over 130 dives. It was during these dives that she became captivated by the change in perspective one attains when they are deep underwater:
There’s just shapes and colors and textures. A movement that is a gentle surge. You hear your breath. It is very ethereal. It was an epiphany in my life aesthetically. I used that as inspiration in my life to continue to paint a lot of water paintings.
- Donna Usher, 2023
Donna Usher scuba diving on the Palancar Reef in Cozumel, Mexico. Image courtesy of Donna Usher
Contemplation (pictured right) was inspired by looking down at the steps in a pool. Usher has been making artwork for 30 years during which time she painted hyper-realistic pools and swimmers. As a curious and evolving artist, her style naturally changed though she stayed connected with subjects that enticed her. Usher was struck by the way the water swirled as she stepped into the pool. Both the surface of the water and the bottom of the pool itself sparkled in the light. As she recalled this moment, Usher made a special note that there were yellow leaves floating on the water that related to the movement, light, and colors. All of these elements are captured in her 2020 abstract painting Contemplation.
Donna Usher went on to say - in relation to her art in general - "Creativity has been a catalyst for me to continue to make art. I just don’t want to make a commodity or be derivative.”
And she doesn't. Her work is wholly authentic: coming from her perspective and experiences.
Donna Usher composes paintings with varied opacity, texture, and color combinations. Her work exudes joy - just one reason why it is so well received. There is a light-hearted playfulness that flows off the surface like a gust of inspiration. It is hard not to be positively affected by Usher's masterful work.
Contemplation, 2020. Acrylic on board, 20 × 16 × 1 3/4 inches.
Four Swimmers in a Pool, 1986.. Oil on canvasl, 56 x 48 inches.
Donna User's paintings powerfully declare their beauty, intelligence, and intricacy. Usher references both real and imagined landscapes that seem cosmic in some ways and microbial in others. One would not be surprised to learn that Usher has used an electron microscope which allows her to see worlds hidden from the naked eye and references photos taken with it. Whether her work references an unknown and infinite celestial body or the most microscopic of life forms, Usher's work is undoubtedly captivating. Philadelphia Style Magazine sang her praises as well!
Special mention in Philadelphia Style's "Showstopper" section!
Donna Usher's Spring Contemplation in a full color quarter page feature in the December 2022 issue of Philadelphia Style. Usher's work was described as colorful and hypnotic and the exhibition "The Language of Color" was delcared a "must see."
Donna Usher, Small Life Wreath Blue, 2022. Acrylic on board, 6 x 6 x 2 inches.
Donna Usher, Small Life Wreath Gold, 2022. Acrylic on board, 6 x 6 x 2 inches.
Donna Usher, Small Life Wreath Green, 2022. Acrylic on board, 6 x 6 x 2 inches.
Donna Usher’s abstract paintings convey dynamic field movement and synergy. With a distinctive visual language, Usher creates spirited works that explore the power of color, texture, and shape. She is able to evoke the complex patterns of our natural world in large and small formats. Usher embraces the unexpected results of her layered decisions with intricate details and bold use of color. Usher's work is vibrant in every sense of the word.
Click the Button Below to view Usher's Virtual Solo Exhibition which showcases the works referenced on this page AND MORE...
Be sure to explore Donna Usher's works on Artsy by clicking the buttons below. She works in a range of colors and sizes so you'll easily be able to find one of her paintings that perfectly suits your home or office!