Daniela Naomi Molnar is an artist and poet working with the mediums of language, image and place. She is also a wilderness guide, educator and eternal student. Her work for the past several years has been focused on issues of climate justice and climate grief. She works across forms, melding painting, poetry, prose, site-specific intervention, editing, and teaching.
Her mediums, therefore, are pigment, paper, water, varied types of language and varied forms of community engagement. Place is always one of her mediums. She understands “place” to be a form of living history, encompassing all human and other-than-human stories. Place is a record of, and an ongoing, active participant in, struggles for justice, visibility and vitality.
She uses these mediums to try to shape and nurture generative new ideas, ethics and cultural change.
The materials that she uses are themselves bearers of meaning. She makes many of her paints from pigments gathered from urban and wild places, combining these pigments with rainwater, river water and ocean water. Her paintings mix these natural paints with synthetic paints, creating fascinating and often unpredictable interactions, while also mimicking the complexity of the post-natural world in which we live, a world that is rich with contradiction, conflict and unexpected beauty.
Her writing is also a confluence of languages: poetry and essay mingle with color and form. She also works in more traditional poetry, essay, and lyric essay forms.
She loves researching and it informs everything she does: political ecology, affective ecology and various strains of the environmental humanities all inform her work.
A cornerstone of her practice is to be resolutely non-competitive, non-expert, and committed to always changing.
Daniela believes that artists are agents of change and cultivates this potential in multiple ways:
• She founded the Art + Ecology program at the Pacific Northwest College of Art;
• She is a founding member of the Board of Directors, a backcountry guide and faculty member with Wide Open Studios. She has also been an integral part of Signal Fire since its inception in 2008, providing opportunities for artists to learn about environmental justice by engaging with public wild lands;
• She teaches art + ecology, creative writing, and visual art courses with Literary Arts, Sitka Center, Playa, Wild Pigment Project, and Portland Underground Graduate School;
• She is founding Co-Editor of Leaf Litter, Signal Fire’s art and literary journal and was Art Editor for many years for the The Bear Deluxe Magazine;
• She offers individual mentoring catered to each individuals’ unique creative practice and potential.
Her work was the subject of a front-page feature in the Los Angeles Times and has been shown nationally and is in private collections internationally. It has been recognized by grants from the Ford Family Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art. She was nominated as a finalist for the Creative Climate Awards in 2018. She has been awarded numerous residencies, including Caldera, Sitka Center, The Spring Creek Project, Mission Street Arts, Sou’wester and Leland Iron Works.
She holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College and her writing has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Fugue, Moss, Tripwire, Bomb Cyclone, petrichor, LEON, GAZE and Archivaria.
A member of the third generation of the Holocaust and the daughter of immigrants, she grew up in and around New York City and lives in Portland, Oregon, in the Cascadian bioregion, atop a buried headwaters confluence, on the unceded land of the Clackamas, Cowlitz, Chinook, Multnomah and other Indigenous peoples.