Donnamaria Bruton American, 1954-2012


Donnamaria Bruton's paintings are unique landscapes, built from the ground up. Layers and textures are added and concealed at the same moment.  The overall impression is one of transcendental images that are recognizable such as a plant form, swirls of water, or tree limbs.  The paintings express her continued interest in the surreal aspects of the visual world; however, they also capture an element of  nature morte.  Bruton's more recent large-scale work brings her paintings to life in a mythic combination of color, form and texture using materials such as paint, paper, stenciled lace, cotton, and glitter. Almost talisman-like in their demeanor, one can sense a beginning to a story or great adventure in the work.


Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Donnamaria Bruton grew up in Detroit, and graduated from Michigan State University in 1976 where she earned her BFA in Graphic Design.  After graduation, Bruton continued her art career by studying art with her uncle, painter Edward Loper, Sr.  in Wilmington, Delaware.  During this time,  Bruton often visited the collection of art in the famous Barnes Foundation to study the collection.  Founded by Albert C. Barnes in 1922, the collection holds some of the most seminal works by Matisse, Cézanne, Renoir and Modigliani as well as important examples of African sculpture.  Bruton's entree to the Barnes resulted in a lifelong reverence for the work of Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse and are among Bruton's greatest influences along with abstract painter Cy Twombly.


Bruton continued her education and earned an MFA from Yale University in Painting and Printmaking in 1991. Between her MSU education and Yale, Bruton exhibited with pioneering African American gallerist Dell Pryor in Detroit. 


In 1993, she joined the Painting Department as Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design.  Donnamaria Bruton's work has been included in numerous one-person and group exhibitions throughout the United States, including an early solo exhibition at Woman and Their Work, Austin, Texas as well as exhibiting abroad in Canada, Japan, France and Korean Biennial.  Donnamaria Bruton's work is in the permanent collection of the Black Studies Gallery, University of Texas, Austin, Newport Art Museum, RISD Museum, Yale University Art Gallery and many private collections.

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