Profile: Donna Bruton (1954-2012)

Donnamarie Bruton was a painter and faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design, known for her mixed media paintings and collages. Bruton worked at RISD starting in 1992, serving as Painting Department head from 2001–03, and as interim dean of Graduate Studies from 2003–05.

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Bruton’s style, described by The Providence Journal as “a loose free-flowing style…. but with a strong realistic streak,” makes use of her drawing, painting, and collage skills. Many of her collages employ mundane objects as the key to getting at a deeper memory or concept. Her first solo exhibit was in 1993 in Austin, Texas, and was well-received. Later in her career, the size of her works expanded, many to canvases 8 by 8 feet (2.4 by 2.4 m).

Bruton received the Blanche E. Colman Award from BNY Mellon in 1999. Her work is part of the permanent collection at the RISD Museum and the Gwanjiu Museum in Korea, as well as several private collections.

Early life and education

Bruton was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1954. Her father was baseball player Bill Bruton, and her grandfather on her mother’s side was Negro League player Judy Johnson. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Michigan State University and a Master of Fine Arts from Yale University.  She studied under painter Edward Loper and exhibited with Dell Pryor in Detroit. She married Timothy Coutis in January 1999.

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