Donna James

Donna James is an Ottawa based multi-disciplinary artist known for her video and photographic body of work, which spans over 30 years is best known for her experimental video Maigre Dog that has been exhibited at festivals and galleries nationally and internationally and was featured in the international touring video exhibition, Magnetic North: Canadian Experimental Video that resulted in a book of the same name. Her work is also featured in the book, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses by Laura U. Marks.

Her videos are in numerous public collections across Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Ottawa Art Gallery, Oakville Galleries, among others.

James was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1960 and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada from the age of three. She attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (BFA 1984) and undertook graduate studies in Architecture at the University of Calgary.

Her art practice has evolved from documentary portraiture to a more personal exploration of storytelling, oral history, language, identity and the measure of memory in the construction of self through experimental video and film/video installation. Her work privileges storytelling and memory, a key element in the politics of representation, particularly for people of colour whose representation has often been dictated by others.

Along with her artistic production she has also invested a considerable part of her career supporting the Canadian independent film/video community through working in various federal funding programs.

She currently spends her time between Ottawa and Nova Scotia.

Artist Code: 175


"the thickness of guidance..."

1998, 04:07 minutes, colour, English

Work To Live...

1993, 01:00 minutes, colour, English

Maigre Dog

1990, 07:50 minutes, English / Patois, closed captions

Critical Writing

Shifts and Transfers: On some tendencies in Canadian video
by Nicole Gingras. Shifts and Transfers. On some tendencies in Canadian video, Mar. 28, 2003. Ottawa: Ottawa Art Gallery, 2003.
big hip: Women Behind the Camera
by Glace W. Lawrence. The Word, Apr. 13, 1995.
Mirror Machine: Video and Identity
by Janine Marchessault. YYZ Books, McGill University, 1995.
Don't Go to Dat Place and Fool Around Like Rich Girls:: Black...
by Gabrielle Hezekiah. Cineaction, Fall 1993, no. 32.
Don't Go to Dat Place and Fool Around Like Rich Girls: Black...
by Gabrielle Hezekiah. cineACTION, Fall 1993, no. 32.
Black On Screen: Black Canadian Women Filmmakers and Video Artists
by Claire Prieto and National Film Board of Canada.
Regeneration: 13 October - 25 November 1990
by Christine Conley. Regeneration, 1990. Kingston: Agnes Etherington Art Centre, 1990.