Faculty Spotlight: Darrin Martin

Editor’s note: Faculty Spotlight is a series where MUSE profiles random arts-related faculty on campus. The goal is to provide readers with useful career tips and student feedback on certain professors.

Darrin Martin, an art studio professor at UC Davis, has experienced a variety of art forms in a career that has crossed the country.

“When I was a kid, I was always drawing. I made my own comic books and alphabet books, which then turned into an interest in painting. My artistic career really started out of my interest in drawing,” Martin said.

Martin’s undergraduate experience at Alfred University broadened his artistic ambitions and exposed him to the mediums he mostly works with today.

“Alfred’s program was extremely rigorous as it was based on Bauhaus ideals. We were exposed to many disciplines in our freshman year,” Martin said. “I took a video class in my sophomore year, and the professor taught me that the video signal was something that could be manipulated like clay. I also became involved with interdisciplinary sculpture and installation work.”

After graduating from Alfred, Martin spent four years in New York with an art studio. He began curating video art exhibitions, which he still does today as part of his research.

Martin went to graduate school at UC San Diego.
“It was an interdisciplinary graduate program much like ours,” Martin said. “They gave me a studio to work with for three years. My advisor Lev Manovich was really inspiring and helpful to work with.”

Upon graduating, Martin returned to New York to teach at Alfred. After five years, Martin decided to return to California.

“I really loved California and I wanted to come back, as well as to set off on my own from my family,” said Martin. “I was drawn to a research facility as it would help me work on my projects and connect me to a larger network of creative people and academics.”

In 2005, Martin began teaching at UC Davis in the Art Studio department. In addition, he also works as the Art Studio graduate advisor.

“I like teaching a lot,” said Martin. “It puts me in a position of having to constantly learn, which I find really exciting. Sometimes it can be learning about the technology I work with, or about how other artists work [among] each other and what they think about.”

This quarter, Martin teaches Art Studio 114C, an intermediate video production class. Third-year art studio major Laura Record is a student in Martin’s class.

“He is really inspiring as a professor because he does his own work alongside teaching,” Record said. “As a person he is incredibly professional yet really sincere. He cares about his students’ well-being and artistic progress.”

Jacob Greenlund is an art studio graduate student who has worked closely with Martin.

“I have worked directly with Darrin this year and I can say firsthand that he is a great teacher in both the classroom and one-on-one interactions,” Greenlund said. “In my opinion, his most notable quality as a teacher is in how much he cares for his students. Darrin always shows great interest in each of his students’ work, progress and success. In class he is very clear and provides good sources to contextualize his lessons and provoke creative thinking.”

To check out some of Professor Martin’s work, visit darrinmartin.com.

JOHN KESLER can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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