The Lead On Creatively series highlights TCU College of Fine Arts alumni, students and faculty who are putting their passion into practice.
Dhananjaya Perera is a 2-D and AP Drawing instructor at Boswell High School in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD. Perera recently collaborated with the College of Fine Arts’ School of Art to host a new media workshop for his students to broaden and inform the context from which they approach art.
Career in the Fine Arts
Perera is the first Sri Lankan graduate to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art. Through his featured solo exhibitions as a student, his talent earned recognition from faculty and art galleries.
His diverse career includes serving as the National Advisor to the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, Visiting Artist Facilitator for the Kimbell Art Museum and as an Adjunct Professor at Tarrant County College Northwest Campus.
Perera’s work is included in the Mary Couts Burnett Library permanent art collection as well as in the Sundance Square 75th Community Christmas lighting event. He has amplified Fort Worth’s art culture through panel discussions, including NPR KERA’s 2021 State of the Arts dialogue and the Startup Champions Network summit co-hosted by the UNT Health and Science Center.
“Ultimately, to boost the creative entrepreneurial spirit in Fort Worth, you must engage the youth and create an ecosystem for them to thrive. This starts with education and the quality in which it is delivered by art educators.”
New Media Workshop
The workshop proposal was written for the 21st Century grant initiative funded by the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD Education Foundation. Associate Professor of New Media Art Nick Bontrager presented non-traditional art techniques, including 3D scanning and 3D modeling of body parts and other organic forms digitally. This allowed students to strengthen their critical thinking and gained insight into pursuing a career in the arts.
“Our immersive workshop allowed students to explore emerging technologies such as 3D scanning, laser engraving, and robotic drawing as they considered how these tools can be used for their creative voice and experience,” Bontrager said.
A Deep Dive with Dhananjaya Perera
How did the College of Fine Arts prepare you for your career?
Perera: The Studio Art program fostered discipline and self-resourcefulness that may have seemed cumbersome at the time but has cultivated a high standard for my studio practice and a collaborative working ethos.
I impose these same expectations and standards onto my students because, in the real world, education is your only currency to success.
Tell us about a favorite career highlight?
Perera: Being recognized by the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society during their 8th annual juried exhibition. My oeuvre has always revolved around my Sri Lankan heritage. So, when another minority group recognizes the value inherent in art as a cultural identifier, it certainly amplifies my creative passion and pride for my studio practice.
What advice would you give to students pursuing a career in studio art?
Perera: My advice for young aspiring artists is to start building confidence and taking risks within your studio practice. Before you network, you must develop your work.