Invasion of Privacy: Professor Dan Dezarn sculpts life of joy, success

Associate professor Dan Dezarn took his love of drawing and sculpture and turned it into a teaching profession that he will enjoy for years to come.

Dezarn was born in Covington, Ky. in 1975 and lived in the area until he completed his undergraduate college studies at 24 years old. He spent six years at Northern Kentucky University, where he studied studio art and sculpture and worked in an art foundry making metal sculptures.

After graduating, Dezarn went straight to graduate school at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While in graduate school he taught undergraduate classes, was the shop tech for the steel shop and did many odds and ends jobs in welding to pay the bills. "That's the good thing about being a sculptor," Dezarn said, "you have skills that transfer out of art, like welding and carpentry." He did everything from making museum displays to working on creating arches for a church with a carpenter.

After graduate school, Dezarn came to Geneseo in 2003 and became a professor at 27 years old. He was offered a job at Geneseo and accepted immediately. "When most people get out of grad school they spend a lot of time looking, so when you get a job right out of grad school it is like winning the lottery," he said.

Dezarn described Geneseo as "a bit of a culture shock; both of the other schools I attended were very big and Geneseo has smaller facilities and a small town culture." When he first arrived at Geneseo, Dezarn said he did not plan on teaching here for long. However, he said, "I've really grown to enjoy this place and all the students that come through here." Because Geneseo is only five hours away from New York City, Dezarn also has the opportunity to conveniently travel there and show his art in the center of the contemporary art world.

Dezarn's interest in art began when he was very young. "When I was a little kid, I always liked to make stuff and as a teenager I liked to work on cars," he said. In high school, Dezarn's parents encouraged him to always have a job. One job in particular really allowed him to explore his love of art, which was being a telemarketer. One day, Dezarn began doodling on a piece of paper while making a phone call and the resulting picture won approval from all who saw it. "The next day I spaced out my calls so I could draw all day, but still looked busy for my supervisor," Dezarn said.

After discovering how much he loved to draw, Dezarn signed up for art classes in his high school. "It turned into something I did all the time and I ended up making more things outside of class than for my class," he said. In college he took a 3-D design class that introduced him to the art he primarily does now: sculpture.

"It just clicked," he said. "It utilized a lot of skills that I built up over the years in working odd jobs in construction with my family or from working on cars."

Dezarn is now directing all his attention to constructing a 400-square foot house just outside of Dansville. The house will be built from 90 percent recycled or home-sourced materials and will be based on the architecture of a Mongolian Yurt. Dezarn's goal with this house is "to build a place where we can exist as sustainably as possible."

Dezarn said he really enjoys his job at Geneseo because "it allows me to be able to focus on subject matter that I'm interested in," and he said he plans on staying at Geneseo "until it burns down or they kick me out."