Sense and Sweetness

…Poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences. 

Rainer Maria Rilke 


I make visual commentary about intangible ideas. My photography is influenced by my experiences as a student in Japan and as an American diplomat in cultural landscapes across four continents. I served as an American Foreign Service Officer abroad for nearly three decades. And then, as Diplomat in Residence at Eckerd College  in St Petersburg, Florida.  I taught international relations for twenty years. In 2017, I picked up Leica and Hasselblad cameras and began exploring photographic art.

As 2023 came to a close, my newest work, Lo Sagrado Femenino was on view in the Main Gallery of the Nielsen Center For The Visual Arts at Eckerd College. 

A solo exhibition of my Breath Taking collection was shown at the Mirella Cimato Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida in September-October 2021. Recent group exhibitions include: Unique Perspectives: An All Photography Exhibit@Five Deuces Gallery,  St. Petersburg, Fl.; LANDSCAPES Juried By: Douglas Beasley, Praxis Gallery, Minneapolis, MN;  and Personae Gratae: Begin At Home, Highfield Hall & Gardens, Falmouth, Ma.

I  hold a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and a B.A. in Political Science from Washington College. My formal photography instruction has come from participation in workshops on-line and in the field. I have studied photography with several masters of the photographic arts. Of particular influence are Freeman Patterson, Valda Bailey and Doug Chinnery who have inspired me to work in an expressive, non-representative direction. I am grateful to Elizabeth Opalenik for introducing me to collaborative work with models.



Photographer/gardener/diplomat, Donna Oglesby’s images are grounded in the belief that aesthetics bring forth ethical action; because when we are moved by beauty, love is aroused; when love is aroused there is a desire to protect what is loved. She knows from the sense and sweetness of a whole lifetime working in cultural diplomacy that both aesthetics and emotions are culturally constructed. She seeks through her work to widen the repertoire of ways we can feel and can communicate feelings to others in order to care for the planet we share.



Axis Mundi, Collective of Expressionist Photographers exhibition at the A Smith Gallery of Photographic Arts, on-line the month of June 2024. 

Blue, Always For Water, Featured photography in the Nature's Beauty exhibition at the Five Deuces Galleria, St. Petersburg, Fl. May 4 - 29, 2024.

Flora, Group Show juried by Wendi Schneider,  SE Center For Photography, Greenville, SC., May 3 until June 1, 2024. 

The Woman's View: Group Show juried by Renee Jacobs, SE Center For Photography, Greenville, SC., March 1, 2024 - March 31, 2024. 


Lo Sagrado Femenino, solo exhibition in the main gallery of the Nielsen Center For The Visual Arts at Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida. November 12 - December 15.

UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES: An All Photography Exhibit @ Five Deuces Galleria, St. Petersburg, Fl., May 6-28.

Colorful Expressions, Warehouse Art District Association Members Show, St Petersburg, Fl. February 11 - April 28.

LANDSCAPES Juried By: Douglas Beasley, Praxis Gallery, Minneapolis, MN, February 18 – March 4.

Fantastic ASPEC Ekphrastic, ASPEC 40th Anniversary, Eckerd College, St.. Petersburg, FL. January. 


Winter Solstice, Warehouse Arts District Art Association, St. Petersburg, Florida December 2021. 

12th Annual Photobook Show presented by the Davis Orton Gallery, Hudson NY and the Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester MA. Davis Orton Gallery, Hudson NY, November 20 to December 19, 2021.  Griffin Museum of Photography January 6 to February  27, 2022

Breath Taking: Sheltering in Our Garden, Mirella Cimato Gallery, St. Petersburg Opera Company, 2145 First Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33712. September - October 2021.

All About Light, Photography Center of Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Art Center juried online exhibition.


Falmouth Art Center 2020 Open Juried Photography Exhibit. Originally scheduled for May 2020, due to COVID-19 the exhibition is now scheduled for September 2020 in Falmouth, Mass. 

Files and Film  7th annual photography exhibition of Florida artists scheduled for Studio@620. In response to Covid-19, Files and Film transformed the annual juried art exhibition virtually via magazine format on In light of current world affairs, Files and Film added a bonus section of Quarantine Art in the back.

Personae Gratae: Begin At Home, January 24 - March 22, 2020, Highfield Hall & Gardens, Falmouth, Ma.


IGPOTY (International Garden Photographer of the Year) Square Crop 13 Photo Project, Shortlisted 2019.

Color As Emotion, Photography Center of Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Art Center juried online exhibition.

Facades, Photography Center of Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Art Center juried online exhibition. Honorable Mention.

Abstracting The Mundane, Photography Center of Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Art Center juried online exhibition.

Members Art Exhibition, Eckerd College, Academy of Senior Professionals, St. Petersburg, FL .


Members Photographic Arts Exhibition, Eckerd College, Academy of Senior Professionals, St. Petersburg, FL.


Porches and Gardens, Photography Center of Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Art Association juried online exhibition.

Bodies of Work

Lo Sagrado Femenino, being awash in the feminine spirit

Breath Taking, journeying through the pandemic in a consoling garden

Autumn Light, the fugitive beauty of plants in fall

Seeing Grace, floral portraits from a cross cultural perspective.

Rooted in Place, cultural landscapes in translation

Numinous Realities, infrared explorations of our natural world


Columbia University, Masters of International Affairs (East Asia Focus)

Washington College, B.A. in Political Science

East West Center, University of Hawaii ( intensive junior year study of Japanese and Japan with field study in Tokyo.)

Related Cross-Cultural Experience

Minister Counselor United States Foreign Service (ret.): During a quarter century of diplomatic service, Donna Oglesby represented the United States abroad in Latin America, Europe, and Asia, and held senior headquarter positions, including Director of Latin American Affairs and Director of the Presidential Youth Exchange Initiative as well as the ranking career position, Counselor of Agency. She received the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange Award for Outstanding Service, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy.

Diplomat in Residence at Eckerd College: For twenty years, she devoted her teaching and writing to spanning the boundary between practitioners of statecraft and scholars of the art. Her articles on diplomacy have been published by the United States Institute of Peace, The Foreign Service Journal, The SAIS Review, The Hague Journal On Diplomacy and the University of Southern California’s CPD Perspectives. Her chapter on ‘Diplomatic Language’ appears in The SAGE Handbook of Diplomacy (London: SAGE, 2016).

Memberships and Affiliations

Juried Artist Member in Fine Art Photography, Cape Cod Art Association

Artist Member of the Warehouse Arts District, St. Petersburg, Fl.

Member of Griffin Museum of Photography

Member of The SE Center for Photography

Member of the Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA) both the Florida and National Chapters

Using Format