the artist

Donna Backues

Donna Backues

Philadelphia, PA

Donna Backues

Early colonial-era photographs, etchings and drawings of Javanese landscapes inspired this body of work as well as the true story of the Krakatoa eruption of 1883 and the resulting tsunami.  During Backues’ 18 years of living on the island of Java in the Indonesian archipelago, she lived in various places and in every place there was a volcano looming nearby.  Java is one of the most geologically active places on earth and has one of the highest percentages of people living near active volcanoes.  Where there are active volcanoes, there is the possibility for unbelievable destruction.  Yet in spite of the volcanoes’ foreboding presence, people want to live on or near these beautiful fire mountains because they also bring so much goodness and fertility to the soil.  They are believed to be holy bringing vengeance and justice to the world.  Volcanoes make for good metaphors.

Fast Facts

Name: Donna Backues


Place of Birth: Born on Guam, USA

1985 - BA Studio Art & Graphic Design from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
2010 – MFA Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
2017 (graduation date) – MA in Urban Studies/Community Arts, Eastern University, St. David’s, PA

Significant or special training:
Skilled in batik textile art
Speaks Indonesian fluently

Notable or memorable instructors or mentors:
Dan Miller (art instructor at PAFA)
Scott Noel (painting instructor at PAFA)

Particular field of study or class work:
I have a background in graphic design & illustration (before computerized digital art was common).  I also specialize in watercolor, pen and ink illustration, monotypes, batik textile art, and mix media collage. I focus mainly on landscape.  I also have a strong interest in community arts.

Major influences/admired artists:
My mother who was also an artist/costume designer was my greatest influence.  My father (a geologist) influenced me by his love of the earth, landscape and travel and his fascination with aerial photography in the South Pacific while he was an airforce pilot.

Favorite materials or media:
2-dimensional media in Ink/watercolor/collage/mix-media/textile art

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