Get to Know Delta Artist Brian Bundren
For Thea Foundation's partnership with the Arkansas Arts Center for its virtual 62nd Annual Delta Exhibition, we've decided to focus on selected artists who also work as educators. It’s often we find that working artists also support their livelihood by sharing their knowledge and talent pedagogically. With arts education at the core of Thea Foundation’s mission, we're proud to highlight artist Brian Bundren, who also works as an art professor at Freed-Hardeman University (FHU). Below is a recent Q&A we had with Brian.
Tell us about the first time you discovered your love for art. Was arts education a part of your childhood/adolescence?
I was interested in art as early as kindergarten. I loved drawing from an early age and throughout elementary school, art was my favorite subject. I spent much of my free time at home focusing on artistic endeavors and my parents supplemented those endeavors by arranging private art lessons with a variety of mentors during my teens.
Q: What drew you to painting and have you explored working with other mediums?
One of my earliest mentors was a painter and I admired his work. As I developed under his influence, painting became my choice of medium due to the idea of creating illusionistic space on a flat surface. As I expanded my experience by visiting museums and studying art history, I saw how deeply rooted painting was in human history. Once in art school, as both an undergrad and grad student, the professors who taught painting were inspiring and became some of my biggest motivators. I learned of painting's diversity as a medium with regards to technique and how the process of painting possessed a visceral quality that merged my touch with mixing and applying colored pigments.
I have worked with other media, but not as much. I do take breaks from painting after working for some time, and turn to either drawing with charcoal on paper or working, in a limited way, with clay/ceramics.
Q: When it comes to subject matter, what do you mostly gravitate toward?
Subject matter comes from a variety of sources through observation. I don't discount anything. If something strikes me visually, it may find its way into a painting at some point. Typically, my practice has been to include the human figure in some way. Having a human element creates a narrative in the piece for a viewer to engage with.
Q: As a professor, how does your work as an artist affect your work in education?
Being a practicing painter is key in being a professor. First, my students need to see me practicing what I preach. Second, it keeps my skills growing so I continue to be an effective mentor. Third, my students may find inspiration by seeing my work. Lastly, as I pursue the professional, practical side of being in the art market, I can give my students first-hand advice from my own experiences that hopefully will help them develop their own careers.
Q: What's a particular milestone in your career that you're proud of/see as a turning point in your path as an artist or as an art professor?
Getting the opportunity to be a university professor is the biggest milestone of my career so far (not to discount all the amazing exhibitions I've been a part of). It was a dream that began when I was an undergrad that grew into a goal when I was working to provide for my family in my 30s. After years of hard work, sacrifice, risk and support I took a chance that has turned out to be a 13-year blessing, so far. This career has given me so many resources and benefits that have allowed me the time and given me the means to make my work and interact with other artists and patrons.
You can find more information about Brian Bundren as well as view more of his work at BundrenArt.com. Thea Foundation will continue features of Delta artists on the blog throughout the summer. If you would like to view the full gallery of art by artists who also work as educators, visit our partner page of the Arkansas Arts Center's Delta site.