Reverend Joyce McDonald

Reverend Joyce McDonald

Reverend Joyce McDonald (b. 1951; Brooklyn, New York) lives and works in New York. A self-taught, visionary multidisciplinary artist, activist, and minister, McDonald fuses experience with strength, hope, and power. In her tender sculptural works, she enshrines her own life stories and wider cultural experiences of family, love, loss, illness, healing, transformation, and transcendence.

As a teenager, she performed at the Apollo Theater in the girl group The Primettes. After her HIV diagnosis in 1985—the result of a long battle with addiction—McDonald was ordained as a minister at the Church of the Open Door in Brooklyn in 2009. She uses her own struggles to drive her work as an artist, activist, advocate, and self-identified “spiritual nurse.”

Through her art and ministry, McDonald shares her contagious joy and love and inspires women to get in touch with their inner beauty and dignity. She uses sculptures, painting, poetry, and song to help people find healing. Her work as an activist and advocate includes founding an HIV awareness and creative arts group for young girls and teens, working with women in shelters and hospitals, writing letters to incarcerated women, coordinating her church's AIDS ministry, and serving as assistant director of the children's choir. She is also an active artist-member of Visual AIDS. McDonald is the proud mother of two daughters, and has two sons-in-law, eleven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

McDonald is represented by Gordon Robichaux, New York, where she presented her first solo exhibition in 2021. In 2023 she presented her first solo exhibition at Maureen Paley, London, UK. She has participated in numerous group shows including at Maureen Paley, London; Marc Selwyn Gallery, Los Angeles; Parker Gallery, Los Angeles; in Souls Grown Diaspora (curated by Sam Gordon), apexart, New York; AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism, Museum of the City of New York; Everyday, La MaMa Galleria, New York; Persons of Interest (curated by Sam Gordon), Bureau of General Services–Queer Division, New York; Curated, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, New York; taken-up, Judson Memorial Church, New York; and HIV+WOMEN+ART at Puffin Foundation Gallery, Teaneck, New Jersey.

McDonald’s work has been celebrated in The New York Times on two occasions, and is held in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.


Precious As A Pearl (Pearl Girl Collection)

Air dry clay, wood, mod podge, costume pearls, mother’s broken pearl necklace

12 × 9 3/4 × 1 inches


Covered with Love

Air dry clay, acrylic paint, fabric, glue, nail

7 1/2 × 6 1/2 × 5 1/2 inches


Joy In The Storm

Air dry clay, acrylic paint, staples

8 1/2 × 5 1/2 × 2 3/4 inches


Family Strong

Air dry clay, acrylic paint

8 1/2 × 5 1/2 × 2 3/4 inches



Clay, paint, paper towel, found object

11 1/4 × 9 1/2 × 2 1/2 inches

c. 2000

I Lift My Eyes to the Hills

Fabric, mod podge, clay, silver paint

6 1/2 × 5 1/2 × 2 1/2 inches


My Dad, My Hero (Willie McDonald)

Air dry clay, house paint, mod podge, father’s fabric shirt and camera

13 × 11 1/2 × 12 inches



Origin Story

Peter Acheson, Florence Derive, John Finneran, DW Fitzpatrick, Pippa Garner, Ava Woo Kaufman, Reverend Joyce McDonald, Miguel "Mikie" Perez, Richard Porter

July 7–Aug. 11, 2023

Reverend Joyce McDonald

Jan. 17–Feb. 28, 2021

Did I Ever Have a Chance?

Helène Aylon, Leilah Babirye, Jenny Holzer, Otis Houston Jr., Corita Kent, Clifford Prince King, Reverend Joyce McDonald, Lorraine O'Grady, Martha Rosler, Hannah Wilke, David Wojnarowicz, Martin Wong

Aug. 15–Sept. 19, 2020

A Page From My Intimate Journal (Part II) —

Wilder Alison, Leilah Babirye, Matt Connors, Jenni Crain, Stephanie Crawford, Florence Derive, DW Fitzpatrick, Gillian Garcia, Daniel Marcellus Givens, Janice Guy, Otis Houston Jr., Miles Huston, KIOSK, Marco ter Haar Romeny, Clifford Prince King, Elisabeth Kley, Wayne Koestenbaum, Siobhan Liddell, Rosemary Mayer, McDermott & McGough, Reverend Joyce McDonald, Matt Paweski, Signe Olson, Sanou Oumar, Kerry Schuss, Dean Spunt, Tabboo!, Ken Tisa, Boris Torres, Frederick Weston

Mar. 1–Apr. 19, 2020


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Gordon Robichaux