Donald Fortescue is a professor of art and design at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco.
He was born in Sydney, where he studied zoology and botany for his first degree, and then worked as a botanical consultant and scientific illustrator for many years. His love of making led him to further studies in design at the Australian National University and then to a master’s degree in sculpture. He moved to the United States in 1997 to head CCA’s Furniture Design Program.
He has exhibited in Australia, the United States, Europe, and South America. He received the Experimental Design Award from San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art in 2001, and his work is in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Houston Museum of Fine Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His most recent solo exhibition Pareidoliawas at Vessel Gallery in Oakland in 2014.
His work involves the use of digital technologies (digital treatment of photographic images, digital stereo imagery and video, computer modeling and mapping of sculptural forms, and digitally recorded and treated sound) in tandem with antiquated technologies and craftsmanship associated with expeditions of discovery from the Enlightenment era to the early 20th century (whittling, scrimshandering, scientific illustration, and the fabrication of instruments of collection, recording and display). By combining these seemingly disparate technologies, Fortescue investigates their underlying meanings.
Professor Fortescue is currently a PhD candidate at the Australian National University where his research explores congruencies between the methodologies, aspirations, and limits of science and art. He is also a research fellow at the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art and an artist collaborator at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.