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Taya Doro Mitchell's home

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About the Artist/Site

Taya Doro was born in the small village of Heemstede in the Netherlands. She attended school until age 12 or 13, and then, as directed by her mother, became a seamstress. Although Doro knew she would not pursue that vocation for long, she internalized her mother’s stern warning against idleness and the command to always “move her hands.”

At age 18, Doro left home, joining a Jesuit school where female students took vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity. She remained there for over a dozen years and studied to become a psychiatric nurse.

In the late 1960s, Doro left Holland for a nursing job in the United States. She moved to Ohio, and then relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1971. Confronted by the socio-cultural revolutions of the period, she decided she needed to do some “catching up.”

In 1973, approaching age 40, she decided to go to art school, but following graduation, did not pursue her studies. She bought a little clapboard house in Oakland, California, and soon met John Mitchell, an African-American widower fourteen years her senior, whom she later married. When he began developing Alzheimer’s disease, she vowed to care for him herself.

In 1989 an earthquake rocked the area and Doro’s house sustained several large cracks. Considering ways to repair the damage, she did not just want to plaster or hang wallpaper. She installed mirrors to make the hallways seem more spacious, and then began to frame the mirrors with ornamental elements she cut, painted, and glued in place, fanning them out from the simple, rectangular mirrors. After completing the “frames,” she proceeded to cover all the hallways, walls, and every inch of ceiling with assemblages made from bottle caps, beads, buttons, earrings, and clothespins she acquired from thrift stores and flea markets.

As her husband’s health worsened, she began working on the walls of the room in which he was resting, so he wouldn’t be alone. The creation of her intricate artwork was calming for both of them and the results can make viewers feel as if they are standing inside of a jewelry box.

Following her husband’s death, Doro moved down the street to a studio, but in 2009 purchased property in New Mexico. She decided to relocate there and remarried—again dramatically changing her life.

The house in Oakland has been sold, and Doro is hopeful that the new owner will maintain its interior. As of this writing (spring 2011), it is not open to the public.

~ Jo Farb Hernández

 

SPACES Archive Holdings

The SPACES archive contains digital photographs from 2009, artist correspondence, clippings.

Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Oakland, California, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 37.804433 / -122.270919

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