Meet the Artist
Donna Backues has a BA in Studio Art and Graphic Design from Southern Illinois University, an MFA from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and an MA in Urban Studies & Community Arts, from Eastern University.
After working as a graphic designer, Donna moved to Indonesia in 1989 and lived for 18 years working as a visual artist and as a grass-roots development worker in West Java. She founded a village community health program and a community arts program in her local community. Her interest in indigenous art forms led to her co-founding a handicraft non-profit supporting local artisans as well as designing batik textiles and woven products for export. She also designed illustrations, manuals, and teaching aids for development projects including materials used in relief efforts during the aftermath of the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
After returning to the US, Donna taught at the Village of Arts and Humanities, Mural Arts Philadelphia and Fleisher Art Memorial. She has been awarded numerous artist residencies through the Philadelphia Art Museum’s Delphi Art Futures and Art Partners program, Spiral Q and Rutgers Camden Center for the Arts. In 2013 Donna won first prize in the American Batik Design Competition, in 2014 she was awarded the Art & Change Grant by the Leeway foundation and in 2017 she was awarded the NewCourtland Fellowship.
Donna currently works at SEAMAAC as the Coordinator of Community & Family Wellness serving the immigrant and refugee populations in South Philadelphia where her years of cross-cultural experience, Indonesian language ability and community arts experience is regularly put to use.
Donna continues to work in her studio as well as teach and exhibit regularly. Four of her paintings are in the Philadelphia Convention Center’s permanent collection. Her public murals can be seen in Philadelphia, Camden New Jersey and in Leeds, England. Her paintings have been collected and exhibited internationally in the US, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.