Photography professor illuminates her first year teaching

Most students have yet to meet Danielle Head, the new assistant photography professor who has brought her own artistic flare and inspiration to the university this semester.

Head has been teaching at the university level for four years now. She attended Hampshire College for film, photography and video, and Indiana University for a Master of Fine Arts degree.

She plans to introduce Advanced Digital Photography in the spring semester of 2016 to add to Washburn’s traditional wet photography practices.

“Washburn is my full time commitment and I plan to stick around,” Head said. “I really love the area and all of the students I have been able to work with so far. It has been a really positive experience.”

Before coming to Washburn, Head taught in graduate school. Indiana University invited her back to do some adjunct teaching after she graduated.

“In my classes, I emphasize students developing their own voice,” Head said. “I’m here to help them express themselves and their ideas, and validate those ideas.”

Head said that it was her interest to work with students, and that she loves to see how other people’s minds work and help them articulate that through art. She is interested in helping students mix media as well and discover their own technique.

Her work tends to be a mix of media–mixing sculpture, installation and photography.

“Knowing that both traditional and digital practices are relevant today, my approach to photography is combining past, present, new and old techniques,” Head explained. “Even if you’re working with film, you can relate it to contemporary subject matter, get immersed in your content and bring in other media to create work.”

Head explained that in a lot of her work she thinks about how photography mediates our understanding of the past and historical events. She uses photography to create documentations of the past, but she incorporates fake or created objects, playing around with the idea of fact versus fiction.

“Usually when we see a photograph we tend to believe it as true, and in my work I like to subvert that,” Head said. “I think by incorporating other aspects, it expands that fictional reality that I’m creating.”

One series Head has created is “Within and Without,” featuring Oswald, a man that she made up. Her photographs depict fake memorabilia of this artist. However, she intends the photograph to look like it was taken of a real collaboration of objects from the past.

Some of her work is currently displayed in Hampshire College as an alumni program, and the “Within and Without” series will be displayed at Washburn on Nov. 6 at the Mulvane Art Museum along with other faculty work.

“I want students to know that it is important to really explore and identify your inspirations and influences,” Head explained. “The best work gets created when you’re exploring your own vision. What makes creative work unique is what the person brings to it.”