Reverend Joyce McDonald

Reverend Joyce McDonald

Reverend Joyce McDonald (b. 1951; Brooklyn, New York) lives and works in New York.

As a teenager, she performed at the Apollo Theater in the girl group The Primettes. After her HIV diagnosis in 1985, and a long battle with addiction, McDonald was ordained as a minister at the Church of the Open Door in 2009. She uses her own struggles to drive her work as an artist, activist, advocate, and “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 sculpture, 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 its 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, and by Maureen Paley, London, UK, where she presented her first solo show in 2023, which was profiled in The Guardian, The Art Newspaper, and Artforum. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions including in Hove, UK, at Maureen Paley: Morena di Luna; in Los Angeles at Marc Selwyn Gallery and Parker Gallery; in New York as part of the exhibitions Souls Grown Diaspora at apexart (organized by Sam Gordon), AIDS at Home (Art and Everyday Activism) at the Museum of the City of New York, Everyday at La Mama Galleria, PERSONS OF INTEREST at the Bureau of General Services–Queer Division (organized by Sam Gordon), Curated at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, and taken-up at Judson Memorial Church; and in New Jersey as part of HIV+WOMEN+ART at Puffin Foundation Gallery.

McDonald’s work McDonald’s work has been celebrated in The New York Times on two occasions, and is held in the collection of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; and the 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



Reverend Joyce McDonald

Beauty in the Midst

Through June 16, 2024

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


Independent New York: Siobhan Liddell, Reverend Joyce McDonald

May 5–May 8, 2022


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Gordon Robichaux