Dona Ann McAdams

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Dona Ann McAdams (born 1954) is an American photographer.

Dona Ann McAdams’ work has been exhibited widely, nationally and internationally, at places such as the Museum of Modern Art, NYC; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC; The International Center of Photography; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Robert Miller Gallery and La Primavera Fotographica, Barcelona. Her photos are in the collections of, among other places, the Museum of Modern Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Print Club, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

She has been recognized for her talents by grants from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Polaroid Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts. In 2002 she received the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times of London, Art Forum, Doubletake, and Aperture. Her monograph of performance work, Caught in the Act, was published by Aperture in 1996. Her other book, The Woodcutter's Christmas, a collaboration with Brad Kessler was published in 2001 by Council Oak Books. The Garden of Eden, about people living with schizophrenia, was published by the Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery at Syracuse University in 1997. Some Women, the catalogue for a 35-year survey of her work, was published by the Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in 2009.

While principally known for her performance photography, for which she's received both Obie and Bessie Awards, the majority of her work lies in a number of personal portfolios, documentary in nature, which range widely and include eclectic subjects such as: thoroughbred horse racing, Appalachia farmers, a community of schizophrenics living on Coney Island. Some of her most memorable images are photographs from the street, where she uses the same techniques she does in live performance to create a kind of performance of everyday life. Her work has been compared to Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, and Tina Modotti.

She has collaborated with and is married to Brad Kessler, American author of Lick Creek, Birds in Fall, and Goat Song. McAdams resides in NYC and Vermont.


  • Caught in the Act (Aperture 1996) ISBN 0-89381-680-9
  • The Woodcutter's Christmas (Council Oak Books 2001)

Exhibition Catalogues[edit]

  • The Garden of Eden (Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery 1997)
  • Some Women (Opalka Gallery 2009) ISBN 978-0-615-31954-4