Deeno Golding was a fixture in the Claypool-Young Art Building for the last 25 years. He was such a presence in the building’s classrooms and hallways that many still have a hard time believing he is gone.
MSU art professor Elizabeth Mesa-Gaido shared that she was used to seeing him every day, as his office was directly across from her own. Golding died suddenly of a heart condition at age 47 while visiting family in Florida. Because this occurred during MSU’s winter break, Mesa-Gaido said it sometimes feels like he is on an extended vacation or sabbatical.
“I don’t think that by the memorial service, everybody had absorbed it. We all kept thinking he was just going to walk in. That his office door was going to open all of the sudden,” Mesa-Gaido said. “There was a void of his person, his voice, his motion.”
When Golding came to MSU in 1994 after receiving his Master of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design, he was a towering figure in both stature and personality. He was crucial to the Department of Art and Design, having crafted the department’s graphic design curriculum. While a majority of his time was spent with students at MSU, he also taught summers at the Arts Academy of Guanxi in China and the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program.
He also served as a faculty advisor for the American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA) and would take groups of students to New York City to visit design firms, museums and galleries.
These trips are one example of Golding showing his students what they could do with their art outside the classroom. He also provided them with motivation and inspiration during class.
Brittany Centers (18), an art major with an emphasis in graphic design, was drawing a cartoonish self-portrait in Golding’s guest book at his memorial service at the Claypool-Young Art Building. She wants to be an animator and even though she only had him for two graphic design classes, she said he encouraged her to believe in her dreams and reach for her goals.
“He made me feel confident in what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be,” she said. “He was definitely a dad figure to everybody.”
Adam Jones (10) was in attendance for Golding’s memorial service, along with many current and former MSU art faculty and students. Jones remembers being intimidated by Golding at first but soon found a gentle soul who helped him find his artistic voice.
“I remember he always pushed me to be who I was,” he said. “It goes beyond just being a teacher. He’s more of a role model. It’s like losing a family member.”
“Enjoy the good things and mourn the bad, but remember, you must never fly too high, for you will not be able to see life below. You must also never bury yourself too low into the ground, for you will be absent from life above. Understand who you are.” – Deeno Golding
Both Golding’s family and the MSU family came together to honor Golding’s legacy as both an artist and a teacher. On May 4, Golding’s wife, Yanya Yang, his brother-in-law, Neng Yang, and son, Milo, came to campus for the dedication of the Golding-Yang Art Gallery. The family has also endowed the Deeno Golding Scholarship Fund for MSU art and design students.
If you ask anyone, the Jamaican-born professor’s biggest impact was his frequent and meaningful interactions with students in the classroom, the design lab or in the hallways of Claypool-Young. Golding was a teacher and motivator who helped people see the potential in themselves and the potential to pass on what they’ve learned to others.
“I think in terms of legacy, the students, the alums I was speaking with, they all said they wanted to live their life modeled after him in terms of his mentorship, how he mentored them, the kind of person he was with others who were trying to work their way up the ladder. That’s what they wanted to carry on and do for others,” Mesa-Gaido said. “A lot of students had no idea what they were capable of and he pushed them to see what they didn’t see in themselves and now they want to share it with others. That’s life-changing.”