Donna Backues

Drawing/Painting

Landscapes

Cityscapes

Artist's Biography

Donna Backues has a BA in Studio Art and Graphic Design from Southern Illinois University, an MFA from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and an MA in Urban Studies & Community Arts, from Eastern University.

Donna began her career as a graphic designer and then moved to Indonesia in 1989 and lived for 18 years integrating her visual art skills with grass roots development work. She founded a village community health program and a community arts program. Her interest in indigenous art forms led to her co-founding a handicraft non-profit supporting local artisans in West Java as well as designing batik textiles and woven products for export. She also created illustrations, manuals, and teaching aids for development projects including materials used in relief efforts during the aftermath of the 2004 Asian Tsunami.

After returning to the US and finishing her MFA in 2010, Donna taught at the Village of Arts and Humanities, Mural Arts Philadelphia and Fleisher Art Memorial. She has been awarded numerous artist residencies through the Philadelphia Art Museum’s Delphi Art Futures and Art Partners program, Spiral Q and Rutgers Camden Center for the Arts. In 2013 Donna won first prize in the American Batik Design Competition, in 2014 she was awarded the Art & Change Grant by the Leeway foundation and in 2017 she was awarded the NewCourtland Fellowship.

In 2018, Donna received an MA in Urban Studies with a concentration in Community Arts. Donna currently works at SEAMAAC, Inc. as the Coordinator of Community & Family Wellness serving the immigrant and refugee population in South Philadelphia where her years of cross-cultural experience, Indonesian language ability and community arts experience is regularly put to use.

Along with her community work, Donna continues to work as a studio artist. Four of her paintings are in the Philadelphia Convention Center’s permanent collection. Her public murals can be seen in Philadelphia, Camden New Jersey and in Leeds, England. Her paintings have been collected and exhibited internationally in Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Artist's Statement

Imagined Landscapes

In this body of work, there are references to aerial landscapes, volcanoes, craters, bodies of water and land-based forms originally inspired by my years living in Southeast Asia. Some of my works are imaginary islands like inner landscapes of memory seen from above and others are emotional responses to specific events or historical paintings. They are all created with landscapes in mind.

Selected Exhibitions

Solo
2017
Imagined Landscapes, Pennswood Gallery, Newtown, PA

2008
Recollections, McInnis Gallery, Eastern University, St. David’s, PA

2007
Monotypes, Redpoint Gallery, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

1995
Watercolors II, Galeri Bandung, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

1994
Watercolors I, Centre Culturel Francais, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Group
2019
Downriver in the Multiverse, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Camden: Past, Present Future Exhibition, Rutgers' Stedman Gallery, Camdem, NJ

2018
West Wing Art Collection, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA

Art is Ageless, NewCourtland Senior Community at St. Bart's, Philadelphia, PA

2017
Fame, Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts Alumni Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Q Artists Group Show, Spiral Q Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2016
Two Philly Artists, The Monkey & the Elephant, Philadelphia, PA

2015
Holiday Show, Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia, PA

2014
Dear Fleisher, Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA

American Batik Design Exhibit, Alleira Batik, Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta

Group Mural Artists, The Hall, Inliquid at Crane Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Artists, Gallery of the Chambers of Commerce, Philadelphia, PA

2013
American Batik Design Exhibit, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Washington D.C.

Score & Slip, Marguerita Hagan & Pierre Trombert Studios, Philadelphia, PA

Backpack Gallery Installation, 30th Street Station, Philadelphia, PA

2010
Inaugural Exhbition, Studio: Christensen, Philadelphia, PA

Selections from the 109th Annual Student Exhibit, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Women’s Board, Philadelphia, PA

MFA Thesis Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

2001
The Figure Drawn, Leeds Central Library Gallery, Leeds, England

2000
Pelukis Dari Bandung, Galeri Bandung, W. Java, Indonesia

1999
Tasikmalaya Artist Group, Gedung Kesenian, Tasikmalaya, W. Java, Indonesia

1998
Tasikmalaya Artist Group, Surya Hotel, Pangandaran, W. Java, Indonesia

1984
Selected Works, Southern Illinois University Gallery, Edwardsville, IL

Artist's Bibliography

2016
Interview, “Donna bantu anak kehilangan trauma," Metro TV, Jakarta, Indonesia, July 22.

"Donna bule asal usa ajak anak lawan trauma," RADAR Television News, Tasikmalya, Indonesia

"Murid di Madrasah Ikuti Workshop Art Camp for Health," Radar Tasikmalaya, July 19

"Donna Backues: Seniman Batik Amerika di Philadelphia," Voice of America Feature Video

2015
Chenevert, Bill, "East Passyunk Crossing gets artsy," South Philly Review, March 5, 2015

Interviewed by Kartini Magazine, Jakarta, Indonesia

2014
Iman, Dhania, "Donna Backues Membatik," Voice of America Indonesia, Washington D.C., November 10, 2015

2014
"Seniman Amerika Ini Lestarikan Batik d Negaranya," National Geographic Indonesia, December 9, 2014

2013
"American Artist, Student, and Professor Win Batik Design Competition," The Jakarta Post World News, October 31,2013

2007
"Interview & Demonstration of Water based Monotype Technique with commentary by artist Suhardi Soedarsono" Padjadjaran Television, Bandung, January 21, 2007

Publications

2017
Backues, Donna, "Lily and the Batik Dragon", Blurb Publishing

Professional Experience

2011 - 2016
The Village of Arts & Humanities, Philadelphia, PA
Studio Arts Instructor

2012 - 2013
KIPP Academy Charter, Philadelphia, PA
Art Teacher

2010 - 2011
Mural Arts Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Lead Teaching Artist

2010
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Summer Art Camp Instructor

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Graduate Assistant in Drawing

1996 - 2007
Bamboo Hill Academy International School, Tasikmalaya, Indonesia
Art Teacher

1990 - 1991
Dana Mulia Orphanage, Bandung West Java, Indonesia
Art Teacher

Awards, Grants, Fellowships & Opportunities

2018
Eastern University, St. David's PA
Outstanding Graduate Thesis Award Honorable Mention

2017 - 2018
Philadelphia International Unity Cup Art Grant, City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

2017
Shared Interest Grant for Artists, Elysian Fields and Little Baby's Ice Cream

Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia, PA
NewCourtland Fellowship

2016
Call for Pennsylvania Artists, 4 paintings purchased by the Philadelphia Convention Center Authority

2014
Leeway Foundation, Philadelphia, PA
Art & Change Award

2013
American Batik Design Competition 2013, Washington, D.C.
First Place Winner

2007
Red Point Gallery, Bandung, Indonesia
Visiting Artist Demonstration

Residencies

2018
Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA
Cambodian Association

Rutgers University, Camden, NJ
Rutgers Camden Center for the Arts

NewCourtland Center, Philadelphia, PA
LIFE Program

2017
Rutgers University, Camden, NJ
Rutgers Camden Center for the Arts

2016
Bungursari, West Java, Indonesia
SNIT (Sumbangsih Nuansa Indonesia)

2013 - 2018
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Art Futures Program

2013 - 2015
Spiral Q, Philadelphia, PA

2012
Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA
Cambodian Association

1994
Redpoint Gallery & Printmaking Studio, Bandung, Indonesia

Collections

Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA
Dolan/Maxwell Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Indonesian Embassy, Washington D.C.
Galeri Bandung, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
Redpoint Studio/Gallery, Bandung, Indonesia

Commissions

2016
Large mural for the Camden County Historical Museum, Camden, NJ

2014
Redesign & repainting of Lily Yeh's "Magic Garden" mural, Village of the Arts & Humanities, Philadelphia, PA

2012
Window scrim murals for the Septa Substation on 13th & East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

2011
Illustrations for the Shot Tower Park signage for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Philadelphia, PA

2006
Illustrated teaching aids for the Elementary School Literacy program in Aceh, Indonesia

2005
Coloring book for Acehnese children during the Asian Tsunami relief efforts, Indonesia

2002
Two murals for Dine China Restaurant, Leeds, UK

Three murals for Little Tokyo Restaurant, Leeds, UK

Education

2018
Eastern University, St. Davids, PA
MA, Urban Studies in Community Arts

2010
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
MFA

1985
Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL
BA, Graphic Design & Studio Art