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Little Gods Everywhere: Rachel Cargle and AH Alum Danny Dunson On Black Art And Existence


Rachel Elizabeth Cargle: For those who are new to your work, I’m interested to hear you talk about how you got into the art world and how you define yourself as a member of the art community.

Danny Dunson: I studied art from a very early age without even knowing it. At that time, “research of art” meant thumbing through books, looking at pictures and learning artists’ names. Art was always my first love. When you see something you like as a child you immediately try to mimic it so I had an artistic talent. My mother is very artistic. My father was also visually and musically artistic so they very much supported me going into the visual arts. I would receive painting and drawing kits for Christmas. I started going into fashion design and I went to a magnet school for the Visual and Performing Arts in Gary, Indiana where I’m from. That’s when my artistry really took on a serious tone. From there, I went to a couple of universities in Chicago and eventually graduated from the University of Illinois, Chicago with a degree in Art History.

Eventually, I succumbed to the idea that I’ve always been interested in the lives of artists: how they operate—the mind of an artist—the objects that they create and how those two things come together. They’re actually at times autonomous of each other—the object from the artist. So I was interested in how those things are always in conversation. Later came my interest in the bigger conversations on racism, history, society, capitalism, feminism—all of these big themes so often show up through art objects.

Art history presented itself as proof of God’s existence. I always thought if you wanted to see the God in someone, look at what they create. Do they create love? Do they create peace? That’s where God is.