Donna J. Wan was born in Taiwan and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She earned her BA (Phi Beta Kappa) and Masters from Stanford University and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She grew up in New York City and only in recent years has developed an interest in the natural world. Her photographs reflect her continual search to understand how perceptions and identities are shaped by the landscape. Her projects have been inspired by 19th century romantic landscapes paintings, history, and her own complex relationship to the landscape.
Her work has been shown internationally including the Museum of Photographic Arts, New Mexico Museum of Art, RISD Museum of Art, Southeast Museum of Photography, SF Camerawork, PhotoCenter Northwest, and Silver Eye Center for Photography. She has been named a Magenta Foundation 2007 Flash Forward Emerging Photographer and both a 2012 and a 2014 Critical Mass Top 50 Finalist. Her awards include The CENTER Santa Fe 2012 Project Launch, 2012 Lucie Foundation/APA Scholarship, 2013 Kolga International Award, The CENTER Santa Fe 2013 Gallerist’s Choice, Silver Eye 2014 International Fellowship, and 2014 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize Finalist.
Publications such as Wired.com, Center for Documentary Studies Porch, Lenscratch, PDN, Feature Shoot, Forward Thinking Museum, Beautiful Decay, Profifoto, Conscientious, Fraction Magazine, Flak Photo, Real Simple and the New York Times Style Magazine have featured her work and interviews. Her work is included in several books including Landmark: The Fields of Landscape Photography, Thames & Hudson, and Summertime, Chronicle Books. She was awarded an artist’s residency at The Center for Photography at Woodstock and has lectured at UCLA and UC Berkeley. Collectors of her work include the Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford, BNY Mellon Bank, Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Donna is represented by Rick Wester Fine Art in New York, NY.
Writings about her work include:
"Donna Wan’s In the Landscape project successfully borrows a tradition from landscape painting, that of 19th-century Romantic painters’ introduction of a figure seen from behind to lead the viewer into the scene, to depict a wide range of vacation and leisure destinations. Elevated vantage points and less-than-ideal lighting conditions introduce distancing elements that underscore the investigative nature of her observation of individuals interacting with the landscape." - Virginia Heckert, Curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum
"Donna J. Wan does literally put us “In the Landscape.” How we look or how we see is at the heart of this work. Man’s presence is important in this work because it provides us with a sense of scale, the way in which we are dwarfed by the enormity of Nature. She gets it right. Seeing from the photographer’s distant point of view we share that smallness, like little specks of humanity, flies on the wall … of a mountain". - W.M. Hunt
"Donna J. Wan's mesmerizing images are concerned with people's interactions with nature. Witness the human race as presented through her lens is liberating. The men and women we witness in the forest, at the gorge, by the river, and elsewhere, are dwarfed by nature as they assume their rightful place in the universe. With their backs turned to us, and their faces barely visible, these people become placeholders for you, and for me." -Linda Benedict Jones, Curator of Photography at the Carnegie Museum of Art.