ROE R. Cross Distinguished Professor
Dan R. Kirkhhefer
1989 - Dan R. Kirkhhefer
Emporia State professor of art at Emporia State University, Dan Kirchhefer, claims baseball, gardening, travelling, and reading as his hobbies. His job is teaching and creating art.
Kirchhefer’s job sounds a lot like a hobby, too.
“I have the greatest job in the world,” Kirchhefer told the ESU Bulletin for a 2010 story.
There is little separation between his hobbies and his job, because he brings the same joy and enthusiasm to both. Kirchhefer makes learning in his classes as fun as a pleasurable pastime.
Former student, Michelle Parkman, said Kirchhefer could always keep you laughing.
“(Kirchhefer) can not only name all of the U.S. presidents in order,” colleague Kjellman-Chapin added in her Bulletin comments, “but can also tell you which ones had mutton chops or other configurations of facial hair,” Kjellman-Chapin said. “He is always ready with an anecdote, a bit of trivia, or a joke.
“He often recites poetry, and can recall at will sections of dialogue from movies such as The Big Lebowski,” said Kjellman-Chapin.
His teaching style, wrapped with levity, does not mean he is an easy grade, however.
“(Kirchhefer) always pushes you further than you think you can go with a piece,” added Parkman. “His favorite line is ‘that’s a good start’ and he knows so much I don’t know how he fits it all into his head. You never get bored. He teaches more than just art to his students. he teaches life with his quirky spin on it.”
“Professor Kirchhefer is a gifted teacher, with a tremendous knowledge about and passion for instruction of printmaking and drawing.” added Kjellman-Chapin.
Kirchhefer was born in Hastings, Neb., and joined the faculty at Emporia State in 1980. He received a BFA from the University of Nebraska in 1971, a Masters in art and art education from the University of Cincinnati in 1972, and a masters of fine art in printmaking from the University of Kansas in 1985.
He is a nationally recognized printmaker who had works in exhibitions around the country and in the Smithsonian Institute.
Some shows where his works have been featured include the National Small Works Exhibition in New York; the Kansas Collection at the National Museum of Women in the Arts; the Mid-Four Annual Juried Art Exhibition at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art; the Fourth Biennial Edinboro National Print Competitions; the McNeese Drawing Invitational; the International Print Triennale, Chamalieres, France; the Midlands Invitational 2000, Works on Paper; the Joslyn Museum of Art, Omaha, Neb.; and the One-Person Show at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University.
Kirchhefer has won numerous awards, including the Juror’s Award, Watercolor USA, 2012; the Juror’s Third Place Award, The Will’s Creek Survey 13th Annual National Juried Exhibition, Cumberland, Maryland, 2012; the Northern National Art Competition Juried Show in 2011; the Honor Award, Northern National Art competition Juried Show, in 2008; the Juror’s Cash Award, City Arts, Arts Council Annual Juried Art Exhibition, Wichita, Kan. in 2006; the Best in Show and Honorable Mention, National Juried Spring Exhibition, Emerald Art Center, Springfield, Oregon, in 2006; and the Jurors Award at the 1988 National Small Works Exhibition in New York.
In 2012, Kirchhefer was named to the National Watercolor Honor Society.
Leland E. Warren, art writer, once critiqued Kirchhefer’s work and described the artist this way:
“A remarkable draughtsman, Kirchhefer conveys with equal mastery the delicate tracery of palm trees (apparently a favorite subject), the appeal of a shaggy dog’s face, or the vulnerability of human flesh.”
Looking forward to the creation of future artwork, Kirchhefer wants to continue his travelling to find new inspirations. He has been to France, Mexico, and Italy, and his next stops may be Brazil, Alaska or the Grand Canyon.
But as for his job of teaching, which can be seen as a work of art in itself, Kirchhefer is now in his fourth decade of his trade. More students will come and have their lives traced upon a scholar’s canvas, and has been the way with Emporia State for 150 years now, changed.
Said Kirchhefer about his philosophy of teaching, “Wisdom and a sense of beauty can’t be given to people — it must be awakened in them.”