August 28, 2019 Artist to Watch: Danielle Burns

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Danielle Burns

Louisiana-based artist Danielle Burns has work that has been exhibited both nationally and internationally including venues in Ireland, Canada, and Japan. Her work as an educator has seen her, since 2015, serve as a Fine Arts Instructor at Baton Rouge Community College where she currently teaches printmaking and graphic design. Her works can be found in the permanent collections at The Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA), California State University (Fresno, CA), Concordia University (Montreal, QC), Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA), and others.

Tell us a little bit about how you got here, when did you know you wanted to be an artist?  

 I don't think I ever really had much of a choice. My mother is an artist and was taking classes in Art Education during my formative years. She experimented with many a lesson plan on her little guinea pig, and I ate them up ravenously. From there, I decided I wanted to teach art too. In middle school, I wanted to teach middle schoolers. In high school, I wanted to teach high school. Then when I got to college to actually study the teaching part, I realized I liked studio classes much more than courses in pedagogy. So I doubled up and got a degree in Art Education and a BFA in painting.

When did you first become interested in print making?

So there I am, with a year left in college. I'm studying painting and making some god-awful work. They were these large, expressionistic acrylics on canvas that always ended up muddy and quickly painted over in gesso to start again. If I made 10 paintings that semester, I would be lucky to have 2 not painted over by final critique. 

I waited a long time to take a printmaking class because I'd heard from two very credible sources that the professor was tough. Both my mother and my first art professor, Brian Robinson had taken Christie Nuell years earlier and remembered her being a no-nonsense, tell-it-how-it-was instructor. It may have been the fear that motivated me to make the best work I could, or it could have just been a natural fit to the process. Either way, she ended up actually liking my stuff! If I could get the approval of someone that scared my two biggest art mentors, I thought "well this must be for me."

The process of printmaking forces you to slow down. It makes you consider each step carefully. This stripped away my tendency to work fast and impulsively like I had with my paintings, and resulted in much better work. I stayed an extra semester to take more classes with Christie and I still consider her one of the best printmaking professors I've ever known. My senior show in painting was actually about 75% print work, and I decided I needed to know as much about the subject as I could.

What or who has been your biggest influence in your work?

The who? Christie had everything to do with helping me discover printmaking and  making me realize that maybe I was less of a painter and more of a draftsperson. Visually, the drawn line quality paired with intentional use of color is something I responded to really early and something that heavily influences my aesthetic. The what? as far as subject matter, I always find that the landscape is an important aspect of the work. In earlier work, the landscape was Tennessee--I drew on childhood memories and rolling hills acted as a setting for my thesis work. After grad school I had a little hiatus on working within a theme. I started working on this current body of work two years ago and I found that the setting shifted from hills to bayou. It's like i went to sleep in Tenneesee and woke up here. 

How do you feel about the arts community & resources in Baton Rouge?

There are some great established art spaces here in the Capital City and it seems there are always new projects and resources sprouting from its fertile soil.  I've met so many passionate people whose love of the arts are proving to be contagious. I've been here for 10 years now, and I've personally seen the crowds grow tremendously at art-centered events. There is always room for growth, and I'm excited to see it happening now.

What do you have coming up that you are excited about?

So many things! Speaking of growth and advancing the arts in the community, I'm really excited about a couple of things that we have coming up at Baton Rouge Community College, where I'm a professor of Fine Arts. The BRCC Foundation received a generous gift from the Winifred and Kevin Reilly Fund at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to expand our printmaking facilities. Not only will this new studio increase student access to high-quality environmentally conscious printmaking, it will serve as a space that will allow visiting artists and other community-engaging events. I also look forward to BRCC becoming the first community college to host the undergrad printmaking conference, This Print Thing We're Doing in October. Printmaking students from Louisiana's universities will join us for a three-day event including demonstrations, gallery receptions, an open portfolio session, and a steamroller extravaganza!

Where can folks see your work?  Online or in person?

What a nice segway! I'm also excited to be debuting at one of Baton Rouge's oldest art establishments. I will be showing my work at Baton Rouge Gallery alongside Dawn Black, Leslie Friedman, and Kathryn Hunter for the month of September. I'm a fan of the amazing work by all of these women, and I am proud to be showing with them. If folks want to see some of my work now, they can check out danielleburns.myportfolio.com.