Campbell transforms discarded objects like tire treads, automotive parts, and various other materials into vibrant and floral sculptures.
When most of us see a pile of treads, twisted metal, and scrap parts, trash is the only thing that comes to mind. However, Danny Campbell has an imaginative spirit and an eye for beauty. Where we see trash, he sees art. As a native of Arkansas, Danny Campbell credits his southern roots and environment as huge influences on his works. Campbell says “I grew up in the bayou. My dad had land down in south Arkansas. These are really inspired by that.” As a child, Campbell often showed his creativity by crafting his own toys. As he grew, Campbell would use his innate creativity to fix things around the home, bringing beauty and color into his family life.
As an adult, Campbell had multiple life experiences that expanded the artistic foundation of his youth. He spent a year in Kuwait, which he describes as a “very turbulent, emotional, frustrating time” in his life that forever changed him. However, the event that most closely links his life to his work was a near accident caused by a tire tread flying from an eighteen-wheeler striking the hood of his car. Although he was not injured, the moment had a lasting effect on him. Eventually Campbell returned to the scene of the accident and collected the first of his assemblage of discarded tire treads.
While his art invokes feelings of whimsy, imagination, and nostalgia, Campbell’s drive is firmly cemented in a real-world issue. Tire treads litter the highways of America, creating both blot on the landscape and potential for accidents to motorists. Campbell says that he hopes that in the years since he has gathered tire treads from roads around the country, he has saved a life or two. In creating art with found materials, Campbell not only pioneers the movement to use recycled and reused goods in art pieces, but also champions a greener future for his community.
Danny earned his bachelor’s in art education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He also holds a master’s in education leadership from Charleston Southern University and an MFA from Howard University. After years of pursuing his career around the country, Campbell returned to his alma mater to teach and sculpt.
This exhibit was made possible through a grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council, funded by the Arkansas Real Estate Transfer Tax.