About Melinda McDaniel
Melinda McDaniel believes in an idea she calls “design thinking” and it helps explain why she’s so passionate about teaching art and design.
“A student comes to me or my colleagues in the department and says: I’ve got an idea,” Professor McDaniel says. “Okay, now it’s time for us to figure out how to get from here to there and bring the idea to life. In my view, there just aren’t that many areas where students can exercise this kind of design thinking.
“The students have to work it out, see where it leads them, and we guide them in the realization of their vision.
“And they do. And that’s why our students are ready to go, ready to make things happen, in whatever they decide to do.”
That’s been the story of Professor McDaniel’s own life and career.
She started out in her youth loving to draw, then got into photography. She received a BFA in studio art from Florida State University and an MFA in photography from The Ohio State University, all the while exploring how photography might mix with sculpture, drawing, printing and other artistic mediums.
Today, she says of herself: “I’m an artist and a teacher.” In addition to her work as a professor in Art + Design at Sage, she’s had her own art exhibited in multiple venues, including the BRIC Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Illinois.
In 2014 Professor McDaniel received the Emerging Artist Award from the Arts Center of the Capital Region.
The rewards she’s found as an educator have been many.
“Our students are all in,” Professor McDaniel says. “It’s so exciting to work with them. They are their own independent creators, exploring their own voices, doing it their own way, because it’s all about what they have to say. And by the time they graduate they know their own voice has value, both in their practice and beyond.”
Graduates of the Art + Extended Media program might end up in careers as artists, photographers, sculptors, film makers, work in museums or galleries, or become educators themselves.
“What they get here at Sage is a well-rounded skill set.”
Professor McDaniel also feels lucky to have landed at Sage. She loves her fellow faculty members.
“I’ve taught at a lot of different schools,” she says. “I’m amazed by the time the professors here give their students. I know pretty much every student in our department, and every faculty member is relentless in providing guidance to the students. I think that’s gold.”
Distinctions & Awards
“I’ve taught at a lot of different schools. I’m amazed by the time the professors here give their students. I know pretty much every student in our department, and every faculty member is relentless in providing guidance to the students. I think that’s gold.”