By Rachel Beck –
When we think about art, we often think about world-famous artists or paintings. However, art is powerful enough to impact societies at the local level. Not only does art recapture experiences and emotions but it is used in science and history to honor moments, whether significant or small. Danielle Robinson works closely with the Cast Iron Community, building sculptures and exhibits while also teaching as an adjunct professor for FHSU’s Department of Art and Design.
Robinson has been teaching as an adjunct since 2013. She graduated from Oklahoma Panhandle State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. Later, she earned an MFA in ceramics from Fort Hays State University.
As an art professor, she experiences the challenges of working with students lacking confidence or struggling with concepts they haven’t been exposed to previously. For instance, she teaches a 3-D art class where she may encounter students who have only worked two-dimensionally. Often, she must teach them to use tools like an angle grinder or even a drill. “You can tell when a student is having a good or bad day. You see students being hard on themselves, but you can kind of tailor that. Even if they come in not in the best of mood or confident about their artwork, with reassurance and guidance, you can put them on the right path,” she says.
Additionally, Robinson teaches a class for non-art majors called Fundamentals and Appreciation of Art, where one of the assignments is for the students to visit an art gallery. “The class allows students to get exposed to the experience of the arts,” she says. “It’s great getting them out of their comfort zone. Most of them are scared to visit a gallery. They think it’s a black-tie situation, so it’s great getting them to feel comfortable and look forward to going to the gallery.”
Regarding her teaching, she notes, “I’m fortunate enough that nothing we do is mundane because every student is different. With every student, you have to figure out how to get them to develop and teach them to use new tools It keeps me on my toes and engaged because nothing is ever the same.”
Outside of teaching, Robinson predominantly works in sculpting as part of a Cast Iron Community. In this position, she travels across the United States attending conferences and participating in exhibitions. This summer, she will travel to Germany to dial in a cupola furnace she built last year. “When I’m not teaching, I’m making my own work to the max,” she says.
In 2018, Robinson and another one of FHSU’s art professors, Toby Flores, were selected to build a fifteen-foot steel sculpture in Codell. Codell is recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for having a tornado on the exact same day for three consecutive years. Robinson and Flores built a cyclone sculpture to honor that special day in Codel’s community.
At the end of the day, Robinson enjoys fishing, cooking and traveling. “One of the most enjoyable things I do as an instructor is being a part of the student’s journey through their growth and development. Attending their BFA or even MFA thesis show allows me to see how much growth and success they’ve achieved while at FHSU,” she says.