College of Architecture, Art and Construction

Professor David Donar fuses art, animation, music and Cajun culture in upcoming sabbatical talk


Students and the public are invited to attend David Donar’s Sabbatical Talk showcasing a cultural fusion depicted through animation and music.  The event, hosted by the Department of Art will be held on April 3 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Lee Hall, Room 1-100.

David Donar, an esteemed filmmaker renowned for his award-winning short stories, wears many hats. Not only is he a Professor of Art in Animation at Clemson University, but he also possesses a deep passion for music, playing instruments such as the accordion, banjo, and guitar. This combination of art, music, and academic philosophy defines his creative endeavors, leading to globally recognized content transcending boundaries.

Last year, Donar embarked on a sabbatical research leave program offered through the University, allowing him to further his professional growth and delve into significant scholarly projects. His research focused on the vibrant Cajun and Creole culture in Louisiana.

Immersing himself in the heart of Louisiana, Donar found inspiration in the myriad styles and sounds that define the region. From classic Cajun tunes to the infectious rhythms of Creole Dance music, every note and melody spoke of a rich cultural heritage.

“The music and culture of Southern Louisiana defy any labels or oversimplification,” Donar noted. “I aim to create a template for further exploration, providing a basic understanding. Visiting this dynamic and vibrant region is a must in one’s lifetime.”

To understand the essence of Louisiana’s music is to delve into its complex history. Cajun music traces its roots to the Acadians, French immigrants who settled in the region in the 1600s. Over time, influences from Caribbean, Latin, and American folk music molded this genre into its unique form. Creole dance music, originating from Africa, infused the musical landscape with intricate layers of rhythm and soul. 

“New Orleans deserves special mention,” Donar emphasizes. “As a port city, it has absorbed influences from around the world, birthing genres like Jazz and maintaining its status as an international arts hub.”

Donar’s exploration of culture extends beyond his research in Louisiana. His recent short film animations have captivated audiences worldwide, with screenings at prestigious festivals such as the Toronto Short Film Festival and the MiCe Film Festival in Spain. His film “Church Street, We Were There” earned him the Best Animation award at Miami’s Cuban American International Film Festival.

This film, part of a larger project funded by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and other organizations, embodies Donar’s commitment to public art and cultural preservation. It’s a testament to his belief that art, in all its forms, serves as a bridge between communities and a celebration of our shared humanity.

David Donar’s animations become vehicles for narrative, cultural immersion, and unity. His creations resonate far beyond conventional confines, seamlessly blending art and heritage, enriching the global cultural landscape. Through his work, Donar gives voice to diverse artistic expressions, forging connections through the world of animation.

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