University of Rio Grande Welcomes Huntington Artist

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The University of Rio Grande’s School of Fine Arts is bringing art and science together for its upcoming exhibition through Expansion and Superfund Sites, by photographer Danny Kaufmann.

Kaufmann is a native of the Florida Gulf Coast area and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Florida State University. While completing the degree, he began taking photographs as a hobby. He said this “hobby” became more serious and he decided to pursue an academic track related to art and photography. He then went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in studio art at Florida State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in studio art from the University of New Mexico.

Kaufmann is now an associate professor of photography at Marshall University and lives in Huntington, WV. Kauffman has been working at Marshall for six years and said he loves being able to teach others what he has learned.

“I think for anyone in education, it’s great having the opportunity to pass on the knowledge you learned through your schooling and in the field and being able to pass it on to students,” Kaufmann said.

Several area and national artists have displayed their work for Rio Grande and the community at the university’s Esther Allen Greer Museum over the past 26 years. Greer Museum Director and Professor of Art Jim Allen said the exhibits often include a workshop taught by the featured artist. Allen said these workshops are open to students of all majors as well as members of the surrounding communities.

“We’re really excited. One of the things we like to do is encourage students to take electives in the art program because it is good to expose yourself to a wide range of knowledge in your general education,” Allen said. “These types of events also let the general public see what we really do here at Rio. People come in from the community and sometimes decide to take classes, especially in the arts, for their enjoyment. It’s important for the community to see what Rio Grande offers.”

Kaufmann said he was excited to display his work at Rio and meet the faculty and students in the School of Fine Arts.

“I was contacted initially by Jim Allen with an invitation to do the exhibition over the summer. I thought it was a really good opportunity to present my work,” Kaufmann said. “I had also not had the chance to visit Rio Grande and thought this was a good opportunity to get to know Rio Grande better as a school and get to know the art faculty and the students as well.”

Kaufmann’s exhibition will feature two separate bodies of work. The first is Expansion, which is a series of photographic works that explores the American West, its history and the popular romanticized narrative of that history. The second is called Superfund Sites. He said superfund sites are locations that have been deemed superfund sites by the EPA usually because of some type of history of contamination at the sites, and this series will is meant to be a visual way to answer the questions of what a site looks like, what local flora and fauna survive them and would someone be able to pass one of these areas without even knowing. Kaufmann says he was inspired to do these because of his interest and background in the biology.

“The two bodies of work are inspire by my interest science, the environment and the relationship between photography’s history of epistemic reliability and the role of photographs as manipulated aestheticized records of events.” Kaufmann said. “My work uses common photographic conventions, such as landscape photography, as a means to create imagery that explores issues surrounding identity, history and perception. For Superfund Sites, my intent is to create a visual resource to document the answers I find. I hope to compile images in an informative manner and to eventually create a kind of “atlas” of the sites in my region, the Mid-Atlantic States. The photographs of these sites serve as present day documents, but also allude to an invisible history that connects these places.”

A reception for Kaufmann will take place at the Greer Museum October 7, at 5 p.m., and he will teach a workshop Thursday, Oct. 29 at 2:30 p.m. The Greer Museum gallery is open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.