ArtConnect Artist to Watch 2021 Working in installation and sculpture, McDonnell uses process art to examine mental illness. Employing an objective approach, she uses the diagnostic features of mental illnesses rather than the subjective experience as a mechanism for generating artworks. Focussing on bipolar disorder, she uses repetition and throwaway materials, conveying a sense of worthlessness and purposeless activity. She is interested in freeing mental health art from the purely expressive, rejecting representational tropes, and applying criticality to what is an underrepresented subject in contemporary art.
McDonnell was a Porthleven Prize and SANE Creative Award winner, and won the Gilbert Bayes Award from the Royal Society of Sculptors in 2021.