Gorgas Lane in Winter, 2020, Gouache on Paper, 16 x 12 inches.
Daina Higgins writes about the origin of her work: "This series is titled 'Ridge Avenue' and is comprised of oil paintings on panel. The subject of these paintings centers on sites in North and Northwest Philadelphia along Ridge Avenue, one of America's oldest roads, that traverses the ridge of land flanked by the Wissahickon Creek and the Schuylkill River. Ridge Avenue also happens to be my street, and after witnessing constant change and upheaval that the recent development boom has brought - including nearly losing the historic house next door, I began to see evidence that Ridge Avenue itself is representative of the boom and bust cycles of American urban development beginning with the colonialists.
Beginning as a Lenni Lenape footpath to the Schuylkill River water source, Ridge Road morphed into an early suburb of grand homes flanked by farms and industrial mills down near the Manayunk Canal, continued as a bustling market during the post-war period, suffered decades of economic downturn which brought auto malls and used car lots where once large stone mansions sat but had fallen into disrepair, and is now emblematic of the historic preservation battle with gentrification in America's oldest cities. Within a two-mile stretch, Ridge Avenue is at once a major highway, the main street, a wooded suburb, a bedroom community with apartment complexes, single-family homes, major retailers, small enterprises, auto-based entities, schools, and pedestrian life all hours of the day.
In my paintings, I seek to visualize these adjacencies and the co-existence of binary relationships. By working with a diminutive scale and busy details, I am referring to the constrained geography of this road and particular neighborhood."
Daina Higgins was born and raised in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio. Her early art experiences were at the Columbus College of Art and Design, where she attended Saturday morning classes for seven consecutive years. During this time she attended Fort Hayes, an arts alternative high school located in downtown Columbus. In 1997 she received the Silas H. Rhodes Merit Scholarship from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She moved to New York, and graduated in 2001 with her BFA.
Out of a small studio in her Brooklyn apartment, she began making small paintings using a spray paint and stencil technique she dreamt up while looking at Georges Seurat’s drawings. In 2003 the Rebecca Ibel Gallery exhibited these paintings. In 2005 Higgins also joined the Elizabeth Harris Gallery, receiving critical acclaim for her 2006 solo exhibition in the New York Times.
In 2007, Higgins enrolled as an MFA student at Queens College CUNY. During the two years of graduate school, she was included in the Queens International 4, a biennial exhibition at the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing, and in 2009 she won the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant. Higgins also traveled to California to open a two-person show with Liat Yossifor at the University of LaVerne’s Harris Art Gallery.
Numerous publications have documented her paintings, including ArtNews, The New York Sun, The Village Voice, The Columbus Dispatch, and The New York Times. In 2006 Roberta Smith reviewed her exhibition at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, ending her review with “[she]…creates a poetic awareness of the passage of light, moving through the world, bouncing off things and making visual experience fleetingly possible.”
In 2010 Higgins moved to Philadelphia, where she bought a house and studio which she has been renovating. In 2017, Higgins installed four paintings on permanent view in the Pennsylvania Convention Center (outside of Hall E). In the summer of 2020, she was included in a group exhibition "End of Summer" at Contemporary Art Matters in Columbus, Ohio. In December of 2020, she was awarded a second grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation.