First Solo Exhibition by a Female Artist to be Hosted by the World Chess Hall of Fame Centers on Women’s Stories and Lives, History of Women in Chess
SAINT LOUIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF), the leading chess cultural center in the country, today announced: “Donna Dodson: Match of the Matriarchs and other Amazonomachies,” an all-new exhibition opening on February 15, 2024, featuring the world’s only all-female life-size chess set. 2024 is the 100th anniversary of the International Chess Federation, and Dodson is the first woman ever to be honored with a solo show at the WCHOF.
Donna Dodson, a Boston-area sculptor, has been carving images out of wood for nearly 30 years. Her sculptures explore feminine beauty and evoke humor, playfulness, grace, power and emotional strength. Her unique vision responds to the relationships of animals to the human spirit that have existed since ancient times. Her figures are almost always female and range in size from the intimate to the monumental.
Curated by WCHOF Chief Curator Shannon Bailey, the show centers on art exploring women’s stories, lives and their place in chess history, including Dodson’s monumental, life-sized chess set “Match of the Matriarchs”, which contains 32-large scale wooden sculptures representing all-female representations of cephalopods battling cetaceans.
Debuting in the exhibition is “The Madwoman of Chess or Autonomous was a Woman”, commissioned by the World Chess Hall of Fame and will be part of the museum’s permanent collection. This dynamic and powerful sculpture harkens back to the backlash received when there was a significant change to the rules of chess—the queen transformed from a piece with limited movement to one that combined the powers of the bishop and the rook. Some called this new version of the ancient game “Madwoman’s Chess.”
“It’s an honor for the World Chess Hall of Fame to showcase the work of an incredible female artist—Donna Dodson—and her whimsical and captivating depiction of women’s role in the game of chess,” said Bailey.
The exhibition also showcases eight “Amazon” sculptures depicting historical, literary, and mythological female heroes, including figures from “Mulan and Black Panther”; a minotaur; Tomyris, a queen of Turkey; the artist’s aunt; Cybele and Lakshmibai, a queen of India. Alongside her 40 wood sculptures, Dodson exhibits a flashlight portrait, a video animation, and a mini version of her monumental chess set.
Supplementing the displays of Dodson’s artwork are marine-related chess sets from the permanent collection of the WCHOF and loans from the distinguished group Chess Collectors International, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2024. Also included are videos of underwater sea creatures and places to play chess while learning about variants of the game of chess related to marine life and Amazons.
The exhibition will be on view February 15-September 15, 2024. For more information, visit worldchesshof.org.
About the World Chess Hall of Fame
The World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to building awareness of the cultural and artistic significance of chess. It opened on September 9, 2011, in the Central West End after moving from previous locations in New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Housed in a historic 15,900 square-foot residence-turned-business in Saint Louis’ Central West End neighborhood, the WCHOF features World Chess Hall of Fame inductees, United States Chess Hall of Fame inductees selected by the U.S. Chess Trust, artifacts from the permanent collection and exhibitions highlighting the great players, historic games and rich cultural history of chess. The WCHOF partners with the Saint Louis Chess Club to provide innovative programming and outreach to local, national and international audiences. For more information, visit worldchesshof.org and on social: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube channels.
Donna Dodson is an American sculptor who has exhibited her artwork around the world. Dodson has completed successful residencies in Verbier, Switzerland; Cusco, Peru; Keelung, Taiwan and Ringkoebing, Denmark. Donna is a Resident Scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center and a Visual Art Fellow at the St. Botolph Club in Boston. Dodson’s recent show, Sheroes (2023), at the Boston Sculptors Gallery was met with critical acclaim. Donna was a 2022 Fulbright US Scholar at Q21/MuseumsQuartier in Vienna, Austria, working as an artist in residence with her host institution, Tricky Women/Tricky Realities, the world’s only animation festival for women.
Dodson has won grants from the Puffin Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, the New Hampshire Guild of Woodworkers and the George Sugarman Foundation. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Provincetown Art Museum, the Art Complex Museum, and the Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts; The Noyes Art Museum in New Jersey; the Davistown Museum in Maine and the World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis, Missouri. Donna’s work has been reviewed in the Boston Globe, Sculpture Magazine, The Daily Beast, Hyperallergic, and Artnet. She is a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery, the nation’s only sculpture cooperative that maintains its gallery space. Dodson is a graduate of Wellesley College. Her paper, “What Do We Call Courageous Women?” was presented at the Society for Classical Studies annual meeting in 2022 and is pending publication in “Queering the Amazons,” a special issue of the Journal of Lesbian Studies.
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