Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Memories from Hillsdale College

It's that time of year again...when September arrives, I become aware once more that many students are going back to school, and I'm not. This will be the fourth year now that I've been out of college, and I always miss it right around this time. I even have dreams that I'm going back to school and starting up classes, rooming with new people and seeing both new and familiar faces around campus. If I'm anything like my mother, I will probably end up having dreams about college for the rest of my life. Of course, being the teacher's pet that she was...her dreams were usually nightmares involving getting a C in a math class, so hopefully mine will be better...

Nevertheless, I still miss my dear old Hillsdale College, and think with great fondness and pride of my four years there. I was self-taught until entering college, so I owe a great deal of my artistic nurturing to Hillsdale and the great teachers I had there. As an artist who is constantly moving forward and looking ahead towards the next project, I'm not the type to dwell on the past. However, I thought I'd share a few memories for old time's sake. These are mostly art-related, but trust me, there's a whole lot more I could share!

The art studio - I can still smell the oil paint, and hear my professor's classical music playing (his favorite was Copland's "Appalacian Spring").
This was the beginning of my first still life painting.

I really miss the music hall - I would practice anything besides what I was supposed to, because that was my time to unwind and decompress. If I was getting worn down by my other projects or assignments, I could always play a little Haydn or Joseph Martin to refresh my spirit.

Did you know that once upon a time, I could play Rachmaninoff, Debussy, or Beethoven really well? (Wow, this is an old picture)

...or that freshman year, my sister and I, along with the help of some friends, made a giant snow squirrel?

...or that I carved a killer pumpkin one year (yes, that's Escher!), but it got stolen?

...or that my favorite non-studio classes were music history and art history? Here's a colored pencil repoduction I did of Caravaggio's "The Taking of the Christ." (On a side note, there's a great book about this painting, called "The Lost Painting.") I absolutely loved doing art reproductions and writing papers on art or music. Good times...

Did you know that sophomore year, I assisted the Hillsdale art department in installing and hosting a high-profile exhibition called "America Seen?" Featured artists included Harvey Dinnerstein, Carl Samson, Scott Burdick, Burton Silverman, Richard Whitney, Allen Banks, Daniel Greene, and Henry Wingate. Below is the Burdick painting we were lucky to display (this painting sold at the show):

...or did you know that senior year, I dyed my hair red for an SAI concert?

It was still red at my senior art show, which, I'm proud to say, was the first solo studio art exhibit in the college's history! This picture shows me in front of my poster (which I designed), and the "parental advisory" warning parents that the show contains nudes. *Gasp!*

One major milestone for me in college was my first official unveiling of a commissioned portrait. Here's "Father Tom Butler," unveiled at the priest's 25th jubilee celebration.

I don't have a shot from graduation of me with the art faculty, but since I've left Hillsdale, the art department is stronger than ever, with students continuing to produce top-notch work, while the faculty continues to thrive and challenge not only the students, but themselves. Currently, my painting professor and chairman of the art department, Sam Knecht, is preparing to unveil a grand-scale oil painting of the signing of the Constitution at Hillsdale College's brand new Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies in Washington, D.C. He was also just featured in American Artist's Studios publication. You can watch a video about it here.

I'm so proud of my school's legacy and happy to have been a small part of it. But now that I've had my moment to my painting prof would say, ONWARD. :-)

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