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Darcy McDaniel strikes conversation with her award-winning art

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Makayla Holder, The TrailBlazer
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The idea of pushing boundaries and starting conversation is what led Darcy McDaniel to a series of awards.

“I like art that pushes boundaries and says stuff that people might not want to hear,” said McDaniel, a senior in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. “I would like to bring about new ideas and inspire something in the viewer.”

When McDaniel set out to create a sculpture inspired by the link between poverty and addiction, that was her goal. After completing the project, she obtained the best in show award at the 2017 Mt. Sterling exhibition.

However, she came away with more than that, a sense of satisfaction.

“It feels really satisfying to connect with people and know that I set out to start a conversation and I did,” said McDaniel.

Despite winning the award for sculpture, her artistic background was rooted photography.

“I’ve always liked drawing little characters in school and when I was 13 or 14 I got a little digital camera. Photography just became my thing. Photography got me into art,” said McDaniel, a native from Hazard, Ky.

McDaniel first started to explore other art forms in Perry County Central High School when she took an art class to hone her photography skills. Since then she has continued to improve and progress her work both technically and conceptually.

“Her biggest progression is how she approaches the medium and how she has begun to use it to explore what she is interested in. Both artistically as well as psychologically and intellectually,” said Professor of Photography and Digital Art, Dr. Robyn Moore.

Moore has been an influential and supportive professor to McDaniel, both artistically and mentally. Moore has provided criticism, suggestions and motivational words to help McDaniel overcome her need for control.

“She doesn’t know when to let go of control, or she didn’t. The latest work she has been doing is all about her relinquishing control and allowing the camera to be part of her,” said Samantha Smallwood, best friend of McDaniel. “Since then it feels like she has stepped into herself.”

These are not the only awards she has won, McDaniel has won other local awards for sculpture and photography as well as had two photos exhibited in two different Midwest chapter galleries for the Society of Photographic Education.

One was exhibited in a student only exhibit while the other was exhibited alongside professionals as well as the top students of the Midwest.

McDaniel had to overcome the anxiety that comes with being an artist to achieve these feats. As she continues to grow she is exhibiting the key trait of every artist, a dream to create.

“At the end of the day you just have to make your work. Whether it is where Darcy is in her career, where I am, or where a 70-year-old artist is you must make your work. You are the only person who can,” said Moore.

McDaniel is planning for a lifetime of art outside of academia.