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I have always been interested in exploring the personal and autobiographical. My artwork, "Art Department", is a biographical piece that uses metaphor and symbolism to fuse my experiences as a student and later as a faculty member in art school programs.

The response to the painting has been overwhelmingly positive, with audiences from all disciplines relating to its poignant message. I am grateful to The Drawing Center, New York, NY, the College of Charleston Crazy Horse literary journal, University of South Carolina College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Carolina School of Visual Art and Design, The Delaware Contemporary Art Center, the Kansas City Art Institute, Ithaca college, Whittier College, Leedy Voulkos Art center, The Vermont Studio Center, and the KCAI Foundation Department for their support, encouragement, and exhibiting the work.

This is an image of artist Dawn Hunter's big orange painting titled Art Department. There are multiple figures seated, standing or dancing on an outdoor area that looks like a construction site.

Art Department, acrylic and ink on paper, 60" x 80", 2009

I teach at a public university where I am an Associate Professor and the Foundations Coordinator. My job allows me to be continually in conversation about art with my students and colleagues. Since my teaching is specifically focused in the area of Foundations (introductory classes that address the elements and principles of 2-D and 3-D design), I find that not only am I often preoccupied with the signifying power of abstract or representational forms within their given context, but also with the internal mechanics of art and object creation.

This is the cover of the journal Crazyhorse, issue 86, that features artist Dawn Hunter's painting Art Department.

Art Department on the cover of literary journal, Crazy Horse.

The artwork on this page are biographically inspired by my collegial life in the department in which I work. In my experience, within an art department, one finds highly creative and competitive individuals who attempt to function as a productive collective. Everyday actions can be read as political and posturing gestures. Sometimes there are veiled jealousies. And often the agendas of each individual are highly impassioned endeavors, which makes identifying any central aim within the department “swamp” difficult. Faculty retreats intended to define and create a mission statement can feel like “herding cats.”

This is a detail image from artist Dawn Hunter's painting Art Department.

Detail, Art Department.

“Are we building something or tearing something down?” is the question asked in my large orange painting Art Department. The figures are composed as a group that is not whole or together. Instead of straightforward portraiture, the figures and their gestures function as symbolic forms with regard to their identities and their meaning to me: friend, foe, or bystander. The process of creating such works has been cathartic, and they express my feelings as these relate to the jealousy, competition, and power within a group dynamic of artists who are also professors and administrators.

This is a photo of the exhibition Day Job at The Drawing Center, New York, NY. Dawn Hunter's painting Art Department is featured on the left.

Art Department featured in the Day Job exhibition at the Drawing Center, New York, NY.

This is a detail of a seat figure from Dawn Hunter's painting Art Department.

Detail of the painting Art Department.

This is an in progress photo of Dawn Hunter's big orange painting, Art Department.

The painting Art Department in progress at the Vermont Studio Center, VT.

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