News & Events

Approach the world with imagination

July 21, 2018


Artist. Learner. Compelled to create.

There’s nothing like checking the mailbox each week for that letter you’ve been waiting for. Hands shake as you struggle to fit the key in the slot. Desperately, you reach into the black void of the mailbox for the last envelope. The thing is—you don’t know if that letter is going to bring good news (like funding for your next art project) or bad (we regret to inform you…).

“It’s always a challenging moment when you open a letter that states you were unsuccessful in your application for an exhibition or a grant,” says Darci Mallon, artist and associate professor with MacEwan University’s Fine Art program.

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Rejection is a powerful inhibitor. Wanting to give up is a normal reaction. “Dealing with rejection is the nature of producing something and trying to get it out there,” she says. “So I give myself a couple of days of self-pity where I feel like packing it in. And then the imperative to make or change something surfaces again, and I’m back at it.”

Over the years, Darci has sat on many juries that decide what projects will receive grant funding or an exhibition opportunity. Through those experiences, she has developed insight into why certain decisions are made, why some projects are rejected and how creators must remain as objective as possible. “You have to reflect on the problems that may have been in the work and how you can change. It’s not personal; it’s about the work and whether it fits the requirements.”

And whether the letters she receives say yes or no, she can’t help but feel the imperative to create. That’s the nature of being an artist.

So is learning. “Often, for an artist in their studio practice, they’re studying lot of other things that inform what they’re doing in their work, rather than just making things up in their head.”

“ When I realized I was happiest working in my high school art room making things,” she says, “I knew that was really how I wanted to spend my life.” 

For Darci, art has a critical research aspect. If the project is about a specific subject, she will read as much as she can about it and study it from different perspectives. Her main area of interest—and one that has inspired her to study philosophy, psychology and even neurology—is identity.

“I’ve always been interested in the construction of identity—what conditions may contribute to how we define ourselves and who we think we are.”

Darci’s own identity is part of her work—demonstrated literally in 1998’s Our Red Scarf, which she “drew” using her fingerprints.

Darci Mallon is an associate professor in the Fine Art program. Find out more at

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