I am an arts psychotherapist, creative arts-disability studies researcher, and arts practitioner.

A qualified social worker with a PhD in Creative Writing, I have research affiliations with QUT and Griffith University where I convened and taught in the Disability Studies stream in the School of Human Services and Social Work from 2011 to 2015. In 2015-2016, I led an NDIS readiness research partnership with Endeavour Foundation to gain an improved understanding of people’s experiences of disability services delivery. My research and practice interests now lie in the visual, text and performance narratives of illness and disability. I am a member of the Australia, New Zealand and Asia-Pacific Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA), Oncology Social Work Australia (OSWA), Flying Arts Alliance (FAA) and Brisbane Institute of Art (BIA).

I worked for thirty-plus years as a social worker and policy advisor, and served as a social inclusion advisor in the government and community sectors.

'Be whole in everything. Put all you are
Into the smallest thing you do.
So, in each lake, the moon shines with splendor
Because it blooms up above'. Fernando Pessoa

My memoir of grief, 'Jack’s Story', following my infant son’s sudden death in 1987 was published by Allen & Unwin in 1991. I followed this up in 2014 with an essay, 'When Time Stops: The Courage for Joy', which was published in Stories of Complicated Grief: a critical anthology (Eric D Miller, editor). I have also written about being deaf in essays such as 'I Hear with my Eyes' (Griffith Review 2006) and 'The Reluctant Memoirist' (Griffith Review 2011) . My book, 'The Art of Being Deaf: a memoir', was published by Gallaudet University Press: Washington DC. March 2014.

My publications include several book chapters; peer reviewed journal articles; NDIS-relevant research reports; and essays. I have also co-edited two journals; exhibited research-based art works in art shows; published several commentaries in various media outlets including The Conversation; and written almost 20 commissioned policy submissions and reports. My book chapter, Visual Narratives: Contemplating the Storied Images of Disability and Disablement, is currently in press.

My research priorities include exploring creative arts narratives of people with disability and illness. In my arts research and practice, I consider my own works and look at the work of other visual artists to find new ways of understanding both the historical and contemporary experiences of people with disability and illness.

In 2016, I exhibited a suite of mixed-media drawing works, ‘Talking back to Diane Arbus’, in The 5 FIVE Show: Queensland Artists Thinking, at the Logan West Library’s Artists’ Walk and in The Four +One Show: Queensland Artists Exploring at WAG Upstairs Gallery. In 2017, I participated in the Everywhere World exhibition at WAG Upstairs with a series of Jungian-influenced works expressing the tensions between my internal world and my urban environment. I am planning a new series of works for 2018-2019, in which I explore the 'five sorrowful mysteries' in the context of our contemporary times.

Donna McDonald BA BSW MA PhD 

ABN: 57 565 376 193 | E: donnamcdonald@icloud.com