Evangel Profile

Michael Buesking: Instructor of art history, painting and drawing

December 3, 2013

Associate Professor of Art Michael Buesking grew up in an environment where “calling” was not a familiar concept. He was reluctant to call himself an artist, or to aspire to be one.

But when it was time for him to choose a school and a course of study, he couldn’t drum up any interest in things outside of art.

Buesking now holds two master’s degrees in the art field: an M.S. in Art Education from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and an M.F.A. from the University of Missouri.

He has been teaching Painting, Art History and Drawing courses at Evangel since 1991. He also leads regular study abroad trips to Italy. 

Buesking displays personal work on his website, Prophet as Artist.

When did you feel called to be an artist?

At first, being an artist seemed like an outlandish idea to me. I lived in a small, rural community in central Illinois and “artists” were people in books, big cities and other countries. I realized my calling after I was in it for some time, and began feeling skilled.  It seems like many of the life decisions people give me credit for, like becoming an artist, came my way naturally rather than as a result of my active pursuit of them.

You served in the military for four years – how did that time impact you as an artist?

My time in the service was instrumental in my spiritual growth – which of course affects my direction as an artist.  I had to grow up some in the Army, and I had to mature as a Christian.  So, after four years in the Army, I was probably more serious about learning and achieving than many of my peers who were just starting college.  I also had that four-year stretch to experience life and to do a few other artworks.

What are some of the big changes to Evangel’s Art Area since you started teaching?

One huge change to the department occurred when we moved into our new facilities in the Fine Arts Center.  Our facilities are some of the best in Springfield.  That move brought all of our studio and lecture courses under one roof, and the area took a great leap forward in terms of technology, setting and convenience.

What do Evangel’s art programs offer to students that other universities do not?

Everything from the study of art history to the development of the student artist’s individual talents is done within the context of devotion to Christ and a commitment to God’s call on our lives.  Faculty are close to their students in settings which, given the relatively small class sizes, give access to the instructor in ways not possible at other schools.

What subjects or topics inspire the art in your personal portfolio?

I enjoy working with the human figure.  The space I create in my paintings is usually realistic, but I also enjoy working with the abstract, investigating the visual forces at work in the form of the painting. My M.F.A. exhibition centered on the Symbolic Actions of the Old Testament Prophets.  Recently, I have focused on stories that bring God into direct, physical contact with man.

What are some of your favorite study trips?

Italy is the destination for a travel course I began some eight or nine years ago.  In its present form, this academic travel occurs every two years.  We go to Florence, Rome and Venice over a period of about 18 days.

What are your best memories about working with Evangel students in the classroom and abroad?

In the classroom, I enjoy seeing the pleasure of students “getting it” — whether in art history or in the studio context.  Each discovery is like a new door opening to unanticipated possibilities in creation.  On our travels, one of my greatest joys is to be near the students experiencing the atmosphere of a place like Florence for the first time.  So far, each arrival in Florence has occurred on a sunny day, and making the walk from the hotel to the Duomo is a tremendous event.

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