Reverend Joyce McDonald, I Lift My Eyes to the Hills, 2002, Fabric, modpodge, clay, paint, glitter, 5.5 x 6.5 x 2.5 inches
Reverend Joyce McDonald (Born 1951 in Brooklyn, NY) is a visionary, multidisciplinary artist, minister, and activist who performed as a teenager with a girl group at the Apollo Theater. Her revelatory art has much in common with that of Sister Gertrude Morgan and Sister Mary Corita Kent, who also fuse experience with strength, hope, and power. McDonald creates her art in the intimate space of her apartment using humble materials (air dry clay, dirt, tin foil, white out, fake eye lashes, staples) to enshrine her life stories and experiences of family, love, loss, healing, and transformation.
After her HIV diagnosis in 1985, the result of a long battle with addiction, McDonald was ordained as a minister at the Church of the Open Door in 2009. She uses her own struggles to drive her work as an artist, activist, advocate, and “spiritual nurse” at the Farragut Houses in Brooklyn—where she was raised and continues to reside—and in her surrounding community. Through her art and ministry, McDonald shares her contagious joy and love and inspires women to get in touch with their inner beauty and dignity. She uses sculptures, painting, poetry, and song to help people find healing. Her work as an activist and advocate includes founding an HIV awareness and creative arts group for young girls and teens, working with women in shelters and hospitals, writing letters to incarcerated women, coordinating her church's AIDS ministry and serving as assistant director of its children's choir. She is dedicated to street ministry and has told her story on television, radio, in print, and online. She is the proud mother of two daughters, two sons-in-law, eleven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
McDonald’s first solo exhibition will be presented at Gordon Robichaux in January 2021. Her artwork is in the collection of the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, has been celebrated in The New York Times on two occasions and profiled in Hauser & Wirth’s Ursula magazine. She is a Visual AIDS artist member, and has participated in numerous group exhibitions including Did I Ever Have a Chance? at Marc Selwyn Gallery and A Page From My Intimate Journal (Part II) — (organized by Gordon Robichaux) at Parker Gallery in Los Angeles; Souls Grown Diaspora (organized by Sam Gordon) at apex art; AIDS at Home (Art and Everyday Activism) at the Museum of the City of New York; Everyday at La Mama Galleria; PERSONS OF INTEREST at the Bureau of General Services–Queer Division; and taken-up at Judson Memorial Church in New York; Curated at Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn; and HIV+WOMEN+ART at Puffin Foundation Gallery in New Jersey.
Reverend Joyce McDonald, Precious As A Pearl (after shingles), 2009, Air dry clay, wood, Mod Podge, costume pearls, mother's broken pearl necklace, 12 x 9.75 x 1 inches
Reverend Joyce McDonald, My Dad, My Hero, Willie McDonald, 1998, Air dry clay, house paint, modpodge, father's fabric shirt and camera, 13 x 11.5 x 12 inches
Reverend Joyce McDonald, Presenting, c. 2000s, Clay, paint, paper towel, found object, 9.5 x 12.25 x 2.5 inches
Reverend Joyce McDonald, Joy In The Storm, 2001, Air dry clay, acrylic paint, staples, 8.5 x 5.5 x 2.75 inches
Reverend Joyce McDonald, Family Strong, 2001, Air dry clay, acrylic paint, 8.5 x 5.5 x 2.75 inches
Reverend Joyce McDonald, Covered with Love, 2003, Air dry clay, acrylic paint, fabric, glue, nail, 7.5 x 6.5 x 5.5 inches