Perception and persistence in art

Head shot: Assistant professor Danielle Head has been a photography fanatic since her undergraduate years. Through teaching, she has been able to explore her passion more both personally and professionally.

Kodee Christensen

Danielle Head, assistant professor of art and photography, is going into her fifth year of teaching at Washburn University. Since graduating with her BA in Film, Photography and Video from Hampshire College and an MFA in Photography from Indiana University, Head has been pursuing photography, both creatively and professionally.

“I got interested in photography when I was an undergraduate,” said Head. “I had a really amazing professor who introduced me to using photography in a creative way rather than just to document things. The conceptual ideas that he introduced really resonated with me. I got more interested in photography and began to realize that doing something creative or artistic for my college path seemed like the thing that I wanted to do.”

From there, Head began working with different mediums of photography and continued to study the subject in her graduate education.

“A lot of my work has to do with revisiting past historical sites and documenting them as they exist now,” said Head. “It has to do with the difference between our perception of the past versus the reality of the past.”

Head is speaking to her most recent project in which she retraced the pathways of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who allegedly assassinated John F. Kennedy. 

“It’s a topic that has a lot of mythology built up around it,” said Head. “I thought it was really interesting to go back and revisit a lot of these actual locations, where he had lived or where things had happened, and photograph them in a way that deconstructs the mythology around it.”

In the classroom, Head strives to keep an open and friendly environment. As a curious person, she does everything she can to spark curiosity in her students as well.

“I always like to share with my students the work that I’m doing,” said Head. “When students see your own process or questions that you have, and you reveal the things you went through to get a final result, I think it helps them to figure out their own path.”

Junior art education major Annabelle Withington took darkroom photography with Head and found her experience to be equal parts challenging and rewarding.

“I loved taking a class with Danielle,” said Withington. “She is so knowledgeable about the content and all the techniques involved and is amazing at conveying it in a way that students can understand. She’s very encouraging but she also challenges you to push your content. She always presents her material in an interesting way and gets you excited about the content. It’s hard to not want to learn and push yourself in her classes.”

Speaking out of her own experiences, Head shares some tips for artists when it comes to pursuing art and creation.

“My advice would be for people to really think about the things that make them curious, and to find a way to incorporate that into the creative things that they’re doing,” said Head. “Then, making work and pushing yourself becomes easier because you’re pursuing something that really interests you.”

Edited by Adam White, Jessica Galvin, Jackson Woods