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.
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, 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
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.
James Hillman and Margo McLean discussing Hunter's work,
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.
Dawn Hunter, fall 2015.
Dawn Hunter, Man as Sunflower, graphite, ink, and acrylic on paper, 11" x 14," 2014.
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 titled, Aesthetic Instincts: the Intersection of Art and Science in the life of Santiago Ramón y
Cajal, 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.
For her presentation, Bequeathed Aesthetics: the origins of Santiago Ramón y Cajal's artistic perceptions, she traced the aesthetic
origins of Cajal's scientific drawings. Hunter examined his childhood experiences and his deep connection as a youth to the novel
Don Quixote, and how that novel was seminal in its imagery, romanticism, individuality and philosophy to Cajal's discovery and
perception of the neuron as an individual unit. Through a comparison of Cajal's early landscape drawings to the work of Goya's
sensibility, she then further connected Cajal's artistic and specific perceptual influence to the great master - an artist who was from
the same region of Spain as Cajal, Aragon. Hunter is the 2017 Fulbright Senior Research Scholar to the Instituto Cajal, Madrid,
Above: Dawn Hunter, Study of Cajal's Insect Visual System Scientific
Drawing, pen and marker on paper, 11" x 14."
Top right: Dawn Hunter, Handmade Sketchbook page, Imagining Castle
Ruins Cajal played in as a youth, pen and graphite on paper.
Middle right: Cajal exhibition at the NIH.
Bottom right: Select biographical works about Cajal by Dawn Hunter on
exhibition at the NIH.
Other Artistic Series:
recent studio work about Ramón y Cajal.
Visit dawnhunterart.blogspot to see the
All of the images on this page are thumbnails, please click on the thumbnails of each work below to view a larger, full screen image.
All rights reserved.
A selection of seven works from
Hunter's series about Cajal are
currently on display 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. The production of this new
body of work about Cajal is
supported by funding from a
Creative and Performing Arts Grant
from University of South Carolina,
Columbia, SC and the College of
Arts and Sciences, Columbia, SC.
To see more examples from this
series please visit
where several works are featured
throughout 2014, 2015, 2016, and
Right, Dawn Hunter's title page from
her presentation at the NIH on
October 28, 2015, featuring an
image designed by Hunter
contextualizing Cajal and his
neurons in a surreal narrative with
Don Quixote de la Mancha, Goya
Dawn Hunter, May Day: Cajal in Spring, acrylic on Yupo paper, 26" x 40," 2014. Details to the right. This artwork is currently on view at the John Porter Neuroscience Research Center, National
Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD.