biography + statement

Daina Higgins is a painter working in oil, gouache, watercolor, and spray paint. Her work has been exhibited nationally in New York, Columbus, Philadelphia, Boston, and Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in 15 solo exhibitions since 2005. In 2021 she mounted a solo exhibition at Contemporary Art Matters in Columbus, Ohio. Recent group exhibitions include Basin Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Cerulean Arts Gallery (Philadelphia, PA), Woodmere Art Museum (Philadelphia, PA), and Piano Craft Gallery (Boston, MA).


She has been featured in various publications including The New York Times, The Brooklyn Rail, ArtNews, The Columbus Dispatch, The Village Voice, and Create Magazine. In 2006 Roberta Smith reviewed her exhibition at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, ending her review with “[she]…creates a poetic awareness of the passage of light, moving through the world, bouncing off things and making visual experience fleetingly possible.” That same year, her graffiti was featured in Nicholas Ganz’ book Graffiti Women: Street Art from Five Continents.

Higgins has been awarded numerous grants and prizes including the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant, The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant (first and second grant), The Artist’s Fellowship Grant, and the Silas H. Rhodes Merit Scholarship to attend The School of Visual Arts, where she earned her BFA in 2001.


Her work is in the public collections of the Columbus Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where it is on permanent view. She is a member of the Long Island City Studio collective in Queens, NY. She is represented by Contemporary Art Matters in Columbus, Ohio.


Higgins received her MFA from Queens College, City University of New York in 2009.


Statement


Through a lifelong commitment to realist painting I discover over and over that the world we make is increasingly surreal, even absurd, and at times humorous. Life in the twenty-first century has been one disaster after another, with little time to grieve and heal until the next disruption. My current series is titled “There is No Shortage of Blue”, a reference to grief and to supply-chain shortages that have become normal as global capitalism breaks down. During the Covid-19 pandemic, my spouse and I were traumatically forced to move from our home by violent adult bullies who moved in next to us. After the move, I created paintings based on a daily log that we kept to document the stalking and harassment that we endured over two years. I paint realist depictions of notes and sketches made with ball-point pen on lined paper that document the disturbing behavior directed at us by our neighbors. In order to capture the gestural qualities of a sketch, I blend oil paint, metallic pigments, and mediums into an inky consistency and fill markers used by graffiti artists. The inky, shiny blue paint is accompanied by other colors that serve as a deconstructed language of office stationery: red pen, white-out, highlighter, loose-leaf, and legal pad yellow.


Each panel is a scaled-up dimension of 8.5 x 11 inch paper to between three and six times that size. The panels are then combined into triptychs and diptychs that tell a story about a series of events. For example, “Hillbilly Toile” is a 44-by-104 inch triptych. The left panel is a toile wallpaper pattern comprised of flowers and vignettes of my neighbors being arrested by police. The center panel is a painting of our house at night, with mega-watt lights pointed directly in our windows. The right panel is a damask pattern of vignettes of my neighbor burning plants with a roofing torch. The use of wallpaper patterns suggests the domestic life that I aspired to as a first-time homeowner. I supported my life as a homeowner by working in office management, since the matter-of-fact nature of administrative work was a welcome counterpart to the emotional and conceptual labor of the studio, while also being an exercise in drudgery on its own.


The reduced color scheme and rigid structure of these paintings are a departure from a 20-year span of atmospheric and detailed paintings of photographs of the urban and exurban landscape and vernacular architecture of Midwest and East Coast cities. As a young graffiti artist in Ohio and New York I developed an eye for overlooked beauty in architectural ‘non-spaces’ which came out of documenting hundreds of works of my graffiti within these spaces. Initially, I painted black and white paintings based on my photographs by using a layered spray paint and stencil technique I developed while inspired by the grisaille drawings of Georges Seurat. The small scale of these paintings at 12 inches or less placed a focus on the material properties of spray paint, as grains and beads of paint became prominent on the picture surface. Later on, I employed vibrant colors of oil paint to chronicle the shop windows and auto sales lots of Queens and Brooklyn with effects of atmospheric light and color. In these larger scaled works, from 20x20 up to 40x60 inches, I endeavored to paint both expressionistically and realistically, focusing on individual brush strokes. After a move to Philadelphia, I painted scenes from a two-mile stretch of the street I lived on, a historic road that developed unevenly through the centuries since its origin as a Lenni Lenape footpath. During this time I honed an indirect painting method based on historic glazing techniques in which complimentary colors are layered into a refractive, glass-like surface. Shut inside during the Covid-19 pandemic, I painted images taken from the news of toppled and defaced colonial and confederate monuments as a way to memorialize the dichotomy of isolation versus mass gathering of society that took place during the summer of 2020 and into the subsequent months, as well as to represent the power of radical graffiti and voice of the people. Some paintings feature surreal compositions of the monuments superimposed into scenes of my local park, blending the sites of isolation and congregation that refer to public life in 2020.


Moving ahead with the series “There Is No Shortage of Blue”, I am weaving the experience of the forced move into a larger personal narrative about the migration and displacement of my family that is the uniquely American story. Confronted with my history as the child of immigrants and the history of so many migrants, it is important to express the elusive concept of home in the twenty-first century. If art making can be a part of the grieving process, perhaps I am hoping to release the trauma of this recent experience and situate it within the contemporary socio-political times we find ourselves.

 
 

CV

Daina Higgins

Curriculum Vitae

Born: Columbus, Ohio 1979

Education:

MFA, Queens College CUNY, New York 2009
BFA, School of Visual Arts, New York 2001
Pratt Institute Pre-College Program, July-August 1996
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Pre-College Program, July 1995
Ohio State University Pre-College Program, June-July 1994

Solo and Two-Person Exhibitions


2021

Contemporary Art Matters, Columbus, OH: "Pandemic/Protest"


2018

Chromedge Gallery, Columbus, OH "New Paintings: Ridge Avenue"

2017
Studio Hada, Philadelphia, PA "Main street"

2012
Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY "New Paintings"

2009
Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY, “Environs
Rebecca Ibel Gallery, Columbus, OH, “Paintings and Works on Paper”

Harris Gallery, University of LaVerne, Claremont, CA, “To Here Knows When” with Liat Yossifor, curated by Dion Johnson

Graduate Thesis Exhibition with Nathania Rubin, Klapper Hall Gallery, Queens College, CUNY


2008
Rebecca Ibel Gallery, Columbus, OH, “Market”

2007
Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY, “Babel in Brooklyn”
Rebecca Ibel Gallery, Columbus, OH, “New Paintings”

2006
Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY, “New Paintings”
Rebecca Ibel Gallery, Columbus, OH, “Ceramics”

2005
Rebecca Ibel Gallery, Columbus, OH, “Flaneur” (catalog)

2002
Tillie’s of Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY, “Daina Higgins: Recent Works”


Group Exhibitions


2023

Leake Street Galleries (online), 50/50 Exhibition, Curated by Marc Craig


2022

Basin Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, "December Art Bazaar"

Piano Craft Gallery & Studio, Boston, MA, “I Like Your Work Fall Exhibition” Curated by Erika B. Hess

Cerulean Arts Gallery & Studio, Philadelphia, PA, "Traversing Terrain"

Shot Tower Gallery, Columbus, OH, "Inspired Reunion 2022"

Open Studio, Long Island City Studio Collective, LIC, NY


2021

Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA, “Woodmere Annual: 79th Annual Juried Exhibition”, Curated by David Wiesner

The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, PA "2021 Annual Domenic DiStefano Memorial Works on Paper Exhibition" Curated by Aida Birritteri

Contemporary Art Matters, Columbus, OH, “Taking Interest: Summer in the City” virtual show


2020

Contemporary Art Matters, Columbus, OH, "End of Summer"

Cerulean Arts Gallery & Studio, Philadelphia, PA, "The Stillness of the City"

Shot Tower Gallery, Columbus, OH, "40th Anniversary of the Fine Arts Program - Fort Hayes Alumni Exhibition"

LinkPHL, Philadelphia, PA, "Art on Link" (digital art show)

The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, PA “157th Exhibition of Small Oil Paintings” (online)

Gallery of Art, Temple University Rome, Italy, "Tiny Biennale: 20/20 Vision" Curated by Susan Moore


2019

Cerulean Arts Gallery & Studio, Philadelphia, PA, "7th Annual Juried Exhibition" Curated by Jane Irish

The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, PA, "156th Annual Exhibition of Small Oil Paintings"

Gallery of Art, Temple University Rome, Italy, "Tiny Biennale: Light" Curated by Susan Moore


2011
Miranova Gallery, Columbus, OH, "Teasers: Selected Works from the Pizzuti Collection by Women Artists" Curated by Rebecca Ibel
The Proposition Gallery, New York, NY, “Summer Salt” Curated by Ingrid Dinter

2010
Cue Art Foundation, New York, NY, “Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant Recipients 2009” (catalog)
Rebecca Ibel Gallery, Columbus, OH, "Trompe L'Oeil"
Fort Useless, Brooklyn, NY “Bushwick Open Studios Exhibition" Curated by Jeremiah McVay

2009
The Queens Museum of Art, NY, “Queens International Biennial 4” (catalog)
Amelie A. Wallace Gallery, Old Westbury at SUNY, NY, “The Grand” Curated by Eun Young Choi
Gallery Satori, New York, NY, “Two Degrees of Separation”
The Puffin Room, New York, NY “Queens College MFA Exhibition”

2008
Gallery 151, Queens College MFA Exhibition, New York, NY, “Retail Space Available”
Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY, “Urban Landscapes”

2007
Dinter Fine Art, New York, NY, “Common Objects
Shot Tower Gallery, Fort Hayes MEC, Columbus, OH, “Inspired Reunion”

2006
Dinter Fine Art, New York, NY, “Summer Hours
The Showroom, New York, NY, “365 T-shirts”

2005
Supreme Trading Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, “The Sisters”

2004
Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY, “Night New York”
Orchard Street Gallery, New York, NY, “Showgirls”
Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, Brooklyn, NY, “Selected Works from the Mudpit”
Volume Art & Performance Space, Brooklyn, NY, “Spring Fix”

2003
Rebecca Ibel Gallery, Columbus, OH, “Fresh Faces”

2003
BLD Studios, Columbus, OH, “Columbus Hip-Hop Reunion Festival”
Eickholt Gallery, New York, NY, “Giza”

2002
Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, Brooklyn, NY, “Local Talent/Small Works”
DUMBO Arts Festival at Dumbo LUNA, Brooklyn, NY
St. Cyril Croatian Catholic Church, New York, NY, “Hit and Run”

2001
SVA Visual Arts Gallery, New York, NY, “Men and Dogs”, curated by Dora Riomayor


Bibliography

Valerio, William (foreward), The Woodmere Annual: 79th Annual Juried Exhibition, 2021. Juror: David Wiesner (catalog)

Sweet, Laura; “Dismantling the Confederacy: Paintings by Daina Higgins”, Ifitshipitshere.com, March 2021

Create Magazine (feature), March 2019
Schultz, Charles; "Daina Higgins New Paintings [at Elizabeth Harris Gallery], The Brooklyn Rail, February 2012.

Vasquez, Mario; Interview with Mario Vasquez of Super Mario's Art: Fine Art in the Fast Lane,

http://mariosartworld.blogspot.com/

Jose Ruiz and Erin Sickler; Queens International 4 Catalog (reproduction), 2009

Landi, Ann; “Urban Landscapes (exhibition review)”, ArtNews, September 2008, with reproduction.
Mullarkey, Maureen; “Testing the Urban Topography”, The New York Sun, June 19, 2008.
Visual Arts Journal (SVA), “Alumni Exhibitions” (reproductions), June 2008
Baker, R.C.; “Best in Show”, The Village Voice, December 12-18, 2007
Kotwal, Kaizaad; “Visionaries Somehow Fit Together”, The Columbus Dispatch, January 14, 2007.
Starker, Melissa; “Painting the Town”, The Columbus Alive, January 11, 2007.
Mayr, Bill; “Alumni Exhibit Reveals Depth of Fort Hayes Talent Pool”, The
Columbus Dispatch Weekender, January 11, 2007.
Smith, Roberta; “Daina Higgins at Elizabeth Harris Gallery”, The New York Times, March 3, and “Last Chance” March 10, 2006.
Ganz, Nicholas; Graffiti Women: Street Art from Five Continents, 2006.
Mayr, Bill; “Spray Painter Makes Graffiti More Respectable”, The Columbus Dispatch Weekender, February 10, 2005.
Starker, Melissa; “Soft Focus”, The Columbus Alive, January 5, 2005.
Mullarkey, Maureen; “Elizabeth Harris Gallery: Night New York”, The New York Sun, June 24, 2004.
Stelling, Steve; “Sunrise through Crosshairs”, catalog essay for Rebecca Ibel Gallery, 2004.
Animal Magazine; paintings featured in issues “Giza”, 2003 and “Spring Fix”, 2004.
Davis, Nikki; “Fresh Faces at Rebecca Ibel Gallery”, The Columbus Alive, Dec. 1, 2003.
Jeanne Fryer-Kohles; “Pieces Offer Intriguing Peek into Future”, The Columbus Dispatch, December 7, 2003.


Commissions and Public Collections

2019

Walt & Whitman Brewing, Saratoga Springs, NY; Custom painting for lounge and graffiti mural for lobby locations


2018

The Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; Embark Collection: Prints from The Joseph Collection

2018
The Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia PA; Paintings on permanent view (outside of Hall E)

2015

The Ohio Portfolio, two prints commissioned for the Joseph Hotel, Columbus, Ohio
2010-11
Annual exhibition at office of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, New York, NY

2005
"Work on paper" for Progressive Corporation Annual Report, Cleveland, OH

Awards

2021

The John R. Maxwell Prize (for oil painting), The Woodmere Museum’s 79th Annual Juried Exhibition, Juror: David Wiesner

Emergency Grant, Artist's Fellowship, Inc.


2020

Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant (second grant)

Coronavirus Artist's Relief Grant, Joan Mitchell Foundation

Second Place Award, “157th Exhibition of Small Oil Paintings”, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, PA, Juried by Matthew DeProspero


2019

Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant

2009
Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant

1997
Silas H. Rhodes Merit Scholarship, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY

Juror and Curatorial Experience


2022

Juror, “158th Exhibition of Small Oil Paintings”, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, PA


2011

Double Down” Exhibition of work by Lacey Fekishazy and Liz Atzberger, Fort Useless, Brooklyn, NY


Lectures


2022

Artist talk, Maspeth Town Hall Senior Art Program, Queens, New York


2021

Artist talk with Rebecca Ibel, Contemporary Art Matters, Columbus, Ohio


2009

Artist talk, University of La Verne, California


Web-based and Collective Projects

2021, 2022, 2023

Artist Member, Long Island City Studio Collective


2021

Artist Member, Toppledmonumentsarchive.org


2007
“Weekend Journey”, Project Room, dinterfineart.com