- College Connections Stories
Get to know Darden Bradshaw
When Darden Bradshaw speaks, it is with the soothing calm of a mother's tone. Her patience and kindness is clearly seen in her understanding, gentle, face. She is a remarkably interesting woman with skills that are as unique as she is. Darden earned a B.F.A. in Visual Studies from Iowa State University, before earning an M.F.A. in Fibers from the University of Arizona, Tucson. She then went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Art History and Education from the same institution. She has taught art and art education at the college and middle school level in Tucson. She is a tapestry weaver and materials maker, which includes paper and other fiber elements. Darden passionately conveys to me, "I have always been a maker, a creator in art." Weaving, and tapestries in particular are rare and treasured art media.
Darden chose the path to art education when she was inspired by her high school art teacher. She teaches art because, "Art has a power to transform people and our consciousness." She grew up all around the world since her father was in the Navy. She studied in Naples, Italy and in the Netherlands. She also took time to study the art of Aubusson weaving in France, which is weaving in a mirror image (very difficult). Darden feels very "at home when working with fibers," and she "sees the potential of art as a vehicle for communication."
Art is her passion and it is a very physically involved passion when she works in fibers. She is most passionate about conveying the need for art in our education system. To Darden, art allows for an interconnectedness of peoples in all walks of life. To teach art education allows her the opportunity to bring art into the classroom. She currently teaches the importance of art in education. "My engagement with art allows me to understand personally and professionally the pivotal role of art education in a visually mediated world," Darden said with a smile. Her courses include Introduction to Art Education, Foundations of Art Education, and Teaching the Visual Arts. She also oversees the student teachers in the art education program.
She recently moved from Tucson, Arizona to join us here in Dayton. Darden made the journey here with Gail, her partner of 17 years, and their teenage daughter Markayla. It has been a sweeping transition for them as they embraced the snowy midwest after years in the sunny southwest. Before moving here they maintained horses, goats, and chickens, but with the move they are now limited to indoor pets. They love their two dogs Faith and Hope and their cat Lucy. The move has given Darden a chance to reinvent and refocus her passions and hobbies. She is embracing this time to explore a rediscovery in her art.
When she isn't working or spending time with her loved ones she can be found curled up with a good book, or a few good books, as her guilty pleasure is reading more than one book at a time. She is still very close to her mother and father. Her mother recently visited from Idaho to explore Darden and Gail's new home. Her father and his wife have lived in Virginia since her fathers retirement from the Navy.
Darden and her family are excited to explore Dayton and all it has to offer. She still loves to travel and if money were no object and time were no limit she was take her family to Mongolia where she would learn the traditional methods for felting a Yurt, and then travel through Europe showing her daughter all the wonders out there in the wide world.
Darden is an empathetic, kind hearted, compassionate listener, who is not afraid to ask the difficult and critical questions that need to be answered. She is a quirky, intelligent, and passionate artist, who puts family first. Her advice to students is, "Hold tight to your instincts as you navigate the academic environment. Be open to the amazing knowledge and resources that are offered to you here. Try the things that scare you, embrace the things that you find passion in, go out into the world to do something you have never done before and let all those experiences transform you, let them engage you, and don’t let anything hold you in." Darden is truly a rare and unique treasure in the art world and we are proud to weave her into our University of Dayton family.