Danny R.W. Baskin is settling into his office space and role as the new Gallery Program Director at Eastern Michigan University.
EMU welcomed Baskin onto the staff this fall. He now oversees EMU’s University Gallery, located in the Student Center, and Ford Gallery, located in Ford Hall, and their monthly rotating exhibitions. The gallery exhibitions range from visiting artists to MFA thesis and capstone shows, and more.
Additionally, he handles the university’s permanent art collection, largely housed in Ford Hall. This includes the majority of the art that can be seen around campus. Next semester, he plans to begin re-cataloging the collection with the help of a student.
“I wanted to get back into a more educational-facing position,” Baskin said.
Baskin appreciates EMU’s focus on community and looks forward to continuing to work with his colleagues and students on important projects.
Baskin moved to the area from the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.
In the past, Baskin has been employed at museums such as Crystal Bridges and 21c Museum Hotel, and galleries such as Feast Gallery, a gallery he and his spouse started together. As a result of Feast Gallery, numerous career opportunities opened up for him.
As an artist, he is currently based in furniture and woodwork. He prides himself on being conscious of the materials he uses, so he buys his wood locally. In his work, he draws inspiration from historic furniture design, Judaica or Jewish ceremonial art, and more.
Pre-pandemic, he was based in sculpture and fabric, creating installations where he would build fabric sculptures, a table, and prepare meals. As part of the show, he invited attendees to gather and have a meal together. During the pandemic, as his interactive shows were canceled, he shifted to furniture and woodworking, restoring antique furniture, building on commission, and for everyday use.
Considering the meanings behind his work, his relationship to the meanings has changed a lot over time, from conceptual ideas to practical and functional use.
“I often think about memory and legacy,” Baskin said.
Growing up surrounded by art and history, Baskin always knew he wanted to be an artist. Pursuing an art education and career helped him to achieve his goals.
Baskin completed his undergraduate education at the Maryland Institute College of Art with hopes of becoming an illustrator. He later attended the University of Arkansas School of Art where he received his master’s in sculpture. Throughout his education, he worked on curatorial projects, art conservation, and in museums and galleries.
“I started really focused on trying to be an artist and then I moved to showing artists,” Baskin said.
Baskin plans to continue creating furniture, focusing on making pieces for his new home, setting up his at-home studio, and adjusting to life at EMU.
“I find furniture making to be relaxing and joyful. It gives me pause, a time to meditate on my life,” Baskin said.