As the youngest in a family of musicians, dancers, artists and storytellers, Danielle Hunt was a perfect fit for the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts.
The senior is graduating magna cum laude this month with a BFA in Studio Art and Extended Media. She started out in the School of Theatre, Film & Television, but changed majors and became one of the School of Art’s most engaging students. Hunt spoke at the Donors and Scholars Exhibition this spring and was a member of the Arizona Arts Equity in the Arts committee.
“I view my role as that of a messenger,” she said about the equity panel, “listening to my fellow classmates, taking note of their concerns regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion, and voicing them in a space where they will be heard.”
Hunt, who’s focus is sculpture, recently answered questions for the School of Art.
Creating art in senior Danielle Hunt’s DNA
Q. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A. I come from a family of five, with my parents and three older siblings (yes, I’m the baby). Both of my parents graduated from the U of A — my father (Craig Hunt) with a degree in chemical engineering and my mother (Cassandra Hunt) with a degree in general fine arts. They actually met here at the university. All my family members are creative in some way: my father is a professional French horn player and pun master; my mother, a dancer and traditional artist of many talents; my sister, a photographer and writer; my eldest brother, a martial artist and storyteller; and my second eldest brother, a musician and special effects guru. Growing up surrounded by creative people, I always felt particularly drawn to the arts and I’m very blessed to have been supported in my artistic endeavors.
Q. You started at the University of Arizona with a different major. What attracted you to the School of Art?
A. Having taken film courses throughout high school and enjoying them more than any other subject, I thought it was a no-brainer to enter the U of A as a film major. While all the film classes here were interesting and engaging, I found that they weren’t hands-on enough for me; I needed to be creating things ASAP! I decided to explore Studio Art as a minor and loved the way the classes were structured. I generally felt more productive in my Studio Art classes as well, as physical evidence of my effort would appear in the form of tactile objects, rather than words on paper.
Q. What were your favorite class(es) and project(s) as an undergrad student and why?
A. I would say my favorite class was Beginning Sculpture (ART 287) since it was the class that introduced me to the world of sculpture and allowed me to meet all the amazing faculty and other sculpture-oriented students that I know today. My favorite projects have been those that challenge me as much as they excite me, with my piece “Sensory Maze” being a prime example. “Sensory Maze” was my first ever large-scale installation, and I took tremendous value from being able to create an impermanent environment for others to experience.
Q. You talked about wanting to focus on sculpture now. What is it about this medium that is so intriguing and motivating?
A. Honestly, I would say sculpture just fits my brain the best! Tetris was my favorite video game growing up (still is to this day) because there’s something immensely satisfying about fitting shapes together neatly. Getting to that point of fitting those shapes together neatly, though, involves a lot of problem solving. That’s really all that sculpture is, too: creative problem solving! I love the tactile and sensorial nature of it, being able to really see, smell, hear, taste and feel what it is that I’m creating. Sculpture feels like the truest form of creation to me.
Q. How important is culture and self-identity in your work?
A. I’m finding that culture and self-identity are becoming more and more important in my own work. I tend to gravitate towards exploring abstract thoughts and feelings, many of which have surfaced from my own experiences and personal history, so I hope to incorporate more aspects of my culture and self-identity in my work as a form of self-discovery.
Q. Can you explain the two sculptures you exhibited in the Donors and Scholars Exhibition: “Diverging Timelines Converge” and “Headrest”?
A. “Diverging Timelines Converge” was heavily inspired by Tamara Kvesitadze‘s “Man and Woman” kinetic sculpture. I wanted to explore the idea of sharing a certain amount of time with someone only to be separated before and after that time has passed using perspective. Looking at the sculpture from the “front,” you see two separate figures; looking at them from the “side,” it appears as though they are embracing. The oval base on which they stand leaves some ambiguity as to which direction the figures are facing and questions whether there is a front or side to the sculpture; their timelines are continually converging and diverging depending on how the sculpture is viewed.
“Headrest” became a sculpture where the meaning lay in the process rather than the final product. I had at least five separate wax molds of my face and no clear idea of what to do with them. Eventually, I discovered that the crook of the nose fit rather nicely behind the ear and was able to assemble my own triumphal arch of sorts by fitting three of the molds together. To me, this piece symbolizes tranquility, based on the facial expression and how each face seems to flow into the next. It was certainly an enjoyable piece to work on!
Q. You were an intern for Arizona Athletics. How cool was it to work over there?
A. It’s been great working as an intern in Athletics! When I first started in 2019, there were only three or four interns, me included. Now, it’s closer to 25, so it’s been very special to have seen the internship’s growth from the start. The internship is focused on creative services and media, so most of our work as interns is specific to producing content, creating graphics, and helping with live production during games. I typically help in the control room, controlling the remote camera, queuing up prompts for the video board, or assisting the replay operator. Recently, I’ve been hoping to lean more into producing animated content, so hopefully that’ll be a path I can continue to pursue!
Q. What was your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you overcome it? What was your favorite accomplishment that made you feel happy?
A. One of my biggest challenges as a student, specifically an art student, has been time management when dealing with burnout. I’ve somehow managed to add on more outside projects with each semester, which certainly hasn’t helped. Struggling to keep up with a strict schedule is even more difficult when you’re burnt out and unable to think creatively, and deadlines for finished art projects don’t wait for your burn out to dissipate. The only way I’ve been able to overcome burnout and get back on track with managing my time has been focusing on self-care: taking time to go out in nature, talk with friends, sleep, and take inspiration from the ordinary. It’s been especially helpful and relieving to have understanding professors that can relate to this cycle and will incorporate flexibility into their courses to account for it.
I’d say that one of my favorite accomplishments that has made me feel happy is simply talking to people. Socializing with others has always been a challenge for me, so being able to talk to my peers and other like-minded individuals about things we’re passionate about has been hugely inspiring and encouraging.
Q. What are your goals after graduation? Are you considering grad school? How can you use your art degree?
I plan on staying in Tucson for another year or so after graduating, just to nurture some relationships and give myself time to create more art and expand my portfolio before looking into grad schools. One of my main reasons for wanting to attend grad school, besides continuing to grow my craft, is to have the opportunity to teach and evaluate if I want to consider teaching as a career path. If I decide not to pursue teaching, I imagine I’ll consider attending a trade school for welding or carpentry in order to elevate my current skill set. I’ve had some very exciting opportunities here in Tucson, so it’s possible my plans will be completely derailed and led in an unexpected direction, to which I say: my plan is to go with the flow and see what happens!