B. 1951, United States
African-American artist Donald Mitchell was born in San Francisco and has lived with his family in the Bayview/Hunters Point district all of his life. He is the third of eleven siblings and has enjoyed and benefited from the support of his large family as well as friends in the community where he is a familiar resident.
Donald has been a studio artist at Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland since 1986. His early work consisted primarily of obsessively crosshatched fields of lines or brush strokes that obliterated the ground and hid any trace of underlying image.
Several years ago a change began in Donald’s responsiveness to his environment that heralded an accompanying change in his artwork. Beginning in small sections of each piece of art, Donald started to uncover the faces and forms buried in the darkness. Soon the work began to be populated by figures both in motion and in thought-filled repose. The dense compositions of scrawled lines or expressive brushstrokes create visions of relationships between people that are both dependent and independent of each other. The forms can be autonomous or overlapping, in horizontal fields or a vertical line, with imploring gazes that stare out to the viewer. He renders these anonymous people one by one until his page is covered with often dozens of totemic figures. Today his fundamental imagery remains the same – legions of crowded figures march across the now illuminated field of his vision.
Donald’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum and has exhibited his work at the Berkeley Art Museum, Collection de l’Art Brut (Lausanne), Gavin Brown’s enterprise in New York, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco).