Professor Emerita

Dona Nelson

Professor Emerita Dona Nelson is an influential American painter and educator best known for immersive, gestural abstract works employing unorthodox materials, processes and formats to disrupt conventional ideas of painting and viewership. She worked at Tyler School of Art and Architecture mentoring hundreds of aspiring artists for more than 30 years, until her retirement in December 2023.

Nelson has had twenty solo exhibitions of her work, primarily in New York City. In 2014, she was included in the Whitney Biennial. In 2018, she had a large survey show of her paintings at the Tang Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, which was comprised of thirty large paintings, many of them free standing, two-sided works, made between 1982 and 2017. Nelson had a survey show of her work in 2000, accompanied by a full color catalog, at The Weatherspoon Museum of Fine Art in Greensboro, NC.
Nelson’s paintings have been written about in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Art in America, the Los Angeles Times and many other publications. She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and an Artist Legacy Foundation Grant. Nelson’s work is included in the  public collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, among others. 

In 2021, Nelson received the College Art Association's prestigious Distinguished Teaching of Art Award for demonstrating the inseparability of teaching and artistic practice.
BFA, The Ohio State University, 1968
Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York City, 1968


Image credit: Gary Donnelly