Donna D’Aquino is a new artist here on The Hill. She and her beautiful jewelry and sculpture joined this crazy art family this spring helping to round out The Works at Studios on Maine Art Hill, a gallery containing three-dimensional works.
D’Aquino was trained as a designer and has roots in graphic design. Her original plan was to be an illustrator, but over the course of time, she traveled down a very different road.
“When I share my early plan to be an illustrator, many people express sadness over a dream unfulfilled,” shares D’Aquino. “This statement still surprises me. It’s just simply not the case.”
Even though this was the origin of her path, the transformation from drawing to jewelry to sculpture was an organic and interesting one.
“Having a desire to work with line transformed my drawing. My work is still made of up line,” says D’Aquino. “They are just three-dimensional lines made of metal.”
Even from her earliest memories all D’Aquino ever wanted to be an artist. She received her BS in Design from The State University College of New York at Buffalo in 1989; and her MFA in Jewelry/Metalsmithing from Kent State University in 1999. After teaching for several years at the university level, D’Aquino decided to focus on her studio practice. She continues to teach and use her skills and talents to help grow new artists.
“There suddenly was a time where making art became more important than making money, and I took that scary step from safety,” says D’Aquino about her decision to give up teaching. “I had found success with my jewelry, so it was time to go full time.”
For seventeen years D’Aquino traveled the “craft show” circuit, She displayed all over the United States, from Minnesota to Texas, California to Florida. But again, growth and change pushed her to take another step forward and try something new. She had run her own shop and worked at a local museum, but being away from her studio in Bethel was becoming too hard.
“Since leaving the travel and outside work behind and finding my place and studio, I began to miss the camaraderie and community of friends. I needed to be with like-minded creatives,” says D’Aquino.
Over time jewelry had become her work, where sculpture, bigger and bolder, was her passion. For the past five years, D’Aquino explored the idea of scale, and her work grew in sizes up to 7 feet. Coupled with the need to seek out more education, D’Aquino moved or more aptly grew, into a new form.
“It has always been important to grow and learn as a person and an artist. Jewelry was a short trip to sculpture,” laughs D’Aquino. “When I decided to attend Haystack, my first ever residency, I wanted to explore something I didn’t know. I had just begun taking a welding course, so I chose larger metal works as my focus. I was venturing into the ‘hot shop.’”
Between the Fabrication Lab, meeting the CNC router, and a small bit of tig welding, D’Aquino fell in love with something she never thought she would do. She left Haystack with lots of “parts and pieces” and is looking forward to seeing what they become.
“I am always open to new things, but when you have been doing something for a long time and have found a level of success with it, it is hard to leap into the unknown again,” says D’Aquino. “I am trying to be a big girl and take that leap one more time.”
To see our collection of Donna D’Aquino’s work, both sculpture, and jewelry, visit The Works at Studios at 5 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk. All the galleries at Maine Art His are open daily at 10 am.