When Dañetta Evans decided to pursue the arts as a career, she says there was no “plan B”; she was committed to pursuing her passion, no matter what. She may not have been able to predict exactly where that determination would land her, but we’re happy to say it’s brought her to Arts for Learning as our new Artist and Programming Manager.
Dañetta is originally from Alabama where she earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations/marketing at Alabama State University and later received her associate of arts degree in graphic design from the Art Institute of Tennessee. She moved to Hampton Roads to attend graduate school at Norfolk State, where she first earned a Master of Art in Visual Studies and later her Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies.
While at NSU, she became interested in participatory art and how data collection can aid in community development and engagement. Then, she says, she wanted to learn more about the effectiveness of STEAM (Science Tech Engineering Arts Math) education. “I created some classes to see how effective it was and did the research in how STEAM and STEM worked and how I could add something to it.”
She also was the liaison between her classmates and the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Virginia when the club wanted NSU art graduate students to create various art classes for different clubs. She loved it—“Not only did I get to do my own artwork, but I got to see the change in the students and the change in my classmates too.”
The art education part of it—it just took my heart. I saw firsthand the character development that took place in the students from the beginning of class to the end of class. I decided then—while I’ll always be a practicing visual artist, the education part was super important.”
Organizing community art events was a major part of NSU’s program. Among other projects, Dañetta helped organize pop-up shops at the NEON Festival in Norfolk, participatory art at the Hermitage Museum, and a 93-foot-long mural inspired by African American history that’s located inside Calvary Baptist Church in Virginia Beach.
At Arts for Learning, Dañetta’s role is to work with the artists on our roster to help develop innovative arts education. Creating community—as she worked to do at Norfolk State—is a major priority.
“I love to create community with our artists, when we come together, share resources, and if I can offer any sort of professional development. And also add to the roster—where do we need some extra artists to help step in?”
Those are the big goals: create community and grow the roster.”
If you’re an artist who’s interested in joining our roster, please click here for details on how to apply.
Fun Facts about Dañetta: She loves trains, especially the sounds they make. And she collect sounds. “Most of the time they’re stored on my phone so if I’m walking around and I hear something, I’ll record it. I think it started when I lived in Nashville. I walked out of a museum and the church bells were going and I thought, ‘Man, I really like that sound.’ So I just started recording it and continued to record the sounds.” And as an artist, who knows? She says “someday I’ll do something bigger with it.”