Donna Dodson: Match of the Matriarchs and other Amazonomachies

February 15, 2024 - September 15, 2024


Donna Dodson: Match of the Matriarchs and other Amazonomachies is the first solo exhibition by a female artist hosted by the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF). The show, which centers on women’s stories, women’s lives, and their place in the history of chess, includes Dodson’s monumental, life-sized chess set Match of the Matriarchs, which contains 32-large scale wooden sculptures representing all-female representations of cephalopods battling cetaceans.

The exhibition also showcases eight additional “amazon” sculptures depicting  historical, literary, and mythological female heroes including figures from Mulan and Black Panther; a minotaur; Tomyris, a queen of Turkey; references to an aunt; Cybele; and Lakshmibai, a queen of India.

Debuting in the exhibition is The Madwoman of Chess or Autonomous was a Woman, which was commissioned by the World Chess Hall of Fame and will be part of the museum’s permanent collection. This dynamic and powerful sculpture harkens back to the backlash received when there was a major change to the rules of chess— the queen transformed from a piece with limited movement to one that combined the powers of the bishop and the rook. Some called this new version of the ancient game “madwoman’s chess.”

Donna Dodson, a Boston-area sculptor has been carving images out of wood for nearly 20 years. Her sculptures explore feminine beauty and evoke humor and playfulness but also grace, power, and emotional strength. Her unique vision responds to the relationships of animals to the human spirit that have existed since ancient times. Her figures are almost always female and range in size from the intimate to the monumental.

The exhibition centers on women’s stories and women’s lives and the history of women in chess.

Supplementing the displays of Dodson’s artworkare marine-related chess sets from the permanent collection of the WCHOF and loans from the distinguished group Chess Collectors International, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary as an organization in 2024. Also included will be videos of underwater sea creatures and places to play chess while learning about variants of the game of chess that are related to marine life and Amazons.

Opening Reception of Donna Dodson: Match of the Matriarchs and Other Amazonomachies

Thursday, February 15 5pm

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Donna Dodson is an American sculptor who has exhibited her artwork around the world. Dodson has completed successful residencies in Verbier Switzerland, Cusco Peru, Keelung Taiwan and Ringkoebing Denmark. Donna is currently a Resident Scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center. Dodson’s recent show, “The Amazons Among Us” at the Boston Sculptors Gallery was met with critical acclaim. Donna is a 2022 Fulbright US Scholar at Q21/MuseumsQuartier in Vienna Austria working as an artist in residence with her host institution Tricky Women/Tricky Realities, the world’s only animation festival for women.

Dodson has won grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the New Hampshire Guild of Woodworkers and the George Sugarman Foundation. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Provincetown Art Museum, the Art Complex Museum and the Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts, The Noyes Art Museum in New Jersey and the Davistown Museum in Maine. Donna's work has been reviewed in the Boston Globe, Sculpture Magazine, The Daily Beast and Artnet. She is a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery, The International Sculpture Center and the Wellesley College Friends of Art at the Davis Museum.

Dodson is a graduate of Wellesley College. She enjoys public speaking, and has been a guest speaker at conferences throughout North America. Donna is a freelance writer whose articles in newspapers, magazines and blogs demonstrate the economic impact and global reach of the arts sector. Her recent paper, “What do we call courageous women” was presented at the Society for Classical Studies annual meeting in 2022.


2/23/24: HEC Media - Donna Dodson at the World Chess Hall of Fame

2/7/24: World Chess Hall of Fame to Premiere New Exhibition: Donna Dodson: Match of the Matriarchs and other Amazonomachies