DEMOREST - Daniel White says the new Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art at Piedmont College is a "jewel in northeast Georgia." And part of his job as director will be to show the museum off to Piedmont students, the community, and the larger art world.
"The museum is in a great place with an excellent collection of fine art and a newly renovated building to display it in," White said. "What we want to do now is build on what has been started here and get the community more involved as we move upward."
Formerly with the Birmingham Museum of Art for seven years, White joined Piedmont in July as the first director of the MSMA, located in downtown Demorest. In his new position, White will work to bring in exhibits by leading artists from around the country, curate the museum's permanent collection, and coordinate student and volunteer docents.
The MSMA opened in October 2011 with a permanent collection of more than 120 paintings and sculpture donated by Piedmont alum Dr. Bill Mason and Bob Scharfenstein, both longtime art collectors. In recent weeks the museum has gained statewide attention with an exhibit of works by more than 50 Southern folk artists, and in September, a nationally touring exhibit of Japanese ceramics curated by Piedmont Art Department Chair Chris Kelly will be on display.
"This is an incredible resource for the students, the Art Department and the college," White said. "As part of their college experience, students can explore and enjoy art history right in front of them." In addition to augmenting fine arts classes, the museum is also central to the college's new Arts Administration degree program, which trains managers of art, music and theatre venues, he said.
A Birmingham native, White earned a bachelor of fine arts in ceramics degree at the University of Montevallo, and a master of fine arts in ceramics from the School for American Crafts at the Rochester Institute of Technology. White said he began as a painter but fell in love with ceramics, and in his own work likes to combine both techniques.
After earning his MFA, he taught art at his alma mater, the University of Montevallo, and worked as an assistant for nationally known architectural sculptor Holden McCurry. In 2005, he joined the Birmingham Museum of Art as a preparator, responsible for designing and installing exhibits and maintaining and preserving the artwork.
"I'm excited to now be the director here at the Mason-Scharfenstein Museum," White said. "Although we are a young museum, it is a first class museum that has already started building a strong reputation with its collection and for the artists we are bringing in."
White and his wife, Emily, live in Clarkesville, and she will be working as a speech pathologist for Habersham County Schools.