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School of Visual Art and Design

Faculty and Staff Directory

Dawn Hunter

Title: Associate Professor / Studio Art
Department: School of Visual Art & Design
School of Visual Art and Design
Phone: 803-777-2606
Office: McMaster, 325
Resources: School of Visual Art & Design


Dawn Hunter pursued her undergraduate studies at the Kansas City Art Institute, Parsons School of Design, and the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art & Music. As a Regents Fellow, she received her MFA from the University of California, Davis where she studied with Robert Arneson, Roy DeForest, and Irit Rogoff. She has participated in numerous solo and multiple artist exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe.   Additionally, she has also received many awards and grants for her artwork, most notably, a Starr Foundation Fellowship, enabling her to be the first American woman to serve as Artist-in-Residence at the Royal Academy of Art, London.  She is currently an Associate Professor of Art in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

Dawn Hunter's new body of work is a suite of biographical drawings and paintings about Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the father of modern neuroscience.  Her series is comprised of creative works and formal investigations of Cajal's scientific drawings that are currently on display at the John Porter Neuroscience Research Center at the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD.

A selection of seven creative works from Hunter's series about Cajal are featured along side the exhibition of Cajal's scientific drawings at the NIH.  Additionally, during October 2015, Hunter participated in the first annual international conference honoring Cajal organized by NINDS senior investigator, Dr. Jeffrey Diamond and facilitated through the collaboration of the Instituto Cajal, the Spanish Embassy and the NIH.  The conference was held at the NIH.  Funding from a Creative and Performing Arts Grant from University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC and the College of Arts and Sciences, Columbia, SC supports the production of this new body of work about Cajal.  To see more examples from this series please visit, where several works are featured throughout 2014, 2015, and 2016 posts.

Other Artistic Series:

Dawn Hunter, specifically in her Spectacle Spectacular series, creates biographical testimonies within her artwork. In the process of creating images that are highly personal to her, she mines popular culture by re-contextualizing and integrating pre-existing figures and forms into her visual language.  She analyzes her reactions to symbolic propaganda within contemporary fashion photography: female stereotypes are constructed as balanced compositions of archetypes and prototypes, thus creating a compelling connection between that which resonates with our cultural identity and that which advertisers encourage us to pursue.  She intends for her artwork to extend beyond aesthetics and to function as educational tools that explore and expose consumer underpinnings that are psychodynamic and iconic within fashion editorials.  She feels this encourages divergent thinking and reveals to the viewership the unequal fluency of visual and symbolic languages that exists between the producers of and the consumers of mass-produced popular culture images.

Her critically acclaimed painting Art Department from this series was featured in the Day Job exhibition held at the Drawing Center, New York, NY, and most recently Art Department was featured as one of the works in the international Urban Art and Media Organization festival held in Munich, Germany, The Delaware Contemporary Art Center, the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center as part of the Onward:  Kansas City Art Institute Foundation 50th Anniversary exhibition, and on the cover of literary journal Crazyhorse, #86, published by College of Charleston.

The production and distribution of Spectacle Spectacular has been supported by a University of South Carolina Research and Productive Scholarship Grant, a Josephine Abney Research Fellowship, special funding from the University of South Carolina Research Foundation, a Puffin Foundation Ltd. Grant, Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties Quarterly Grant, and a University of South Carolina Research Opportunity Program Grant Category III.  Hunter began this series through the award of a summer residency at The Cooper Union, New York, NY.  

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.