Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Brian Bundren is an artist with ambition. After graduating from high school, Bundren pursued an associate’s degree at Michigan Christian University. Before long, he also had a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Herron School of Art and a Masters of Arts from the University of Indianapolis and was working as curatorial support at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Bundren is currently pursuing his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Memphis.
A man with so many credentials is in demand for institutions of higher education, and when the art instruction position opened, Freed-Hardeman saw Bundren as a viable and essential part of the art department. Since that time nearly 18 months ago, this artist-teacher has been busy teaching everything from painting and drawing to studio disciplines and practical concerns for professional artists. He enjoys the environment at FHU as well as his accomplished and caring colleagues whose expertise and wisdom have been invaluable to his experience at Freed-Hardeman.
“I really appreciate the school creed,” Bundren said “‘teaching how to live and how to make a living.’ I feel like this is exactly what the student-as-artist needs. My job is both to teach art and to teach how to live by your art, but I also think that teaching art is about plugging students into a relationship with God as creator.” Bundren noted that at a secular school, the student would be led to knowledge of art separated from God’s endowment of creativity on our minds. Though Freed-Hardeman cannot act without the inhibition of morality in its students’ exposure to artistic innovations, the benefit and the influence of spiritual art is growing rapidly and Bundren celebrates this development.
In addition to the spiritual atmosphere of FHU’s art program, Bundren noted the benefit of operating in such high quality facilities. The Bulliner-Clayton Visual Arts building includes lab and studio classrooms for drawing, painting, sculpting, woodworking, and printmaking. The facility is also home to Freed-Hardeman’s new dark room and Mac lab, featuring brand new iMacs for photo editing and graphic design. Local and visiting artists can also display their artwork in the Troy Plunk Art Gallery where senior art majors have a chance to publicize and to network with fellow artists interested in their craft.
“Something special about Freed aside from the atmosphere and the facilities is the general attitude of the students. They each recognize that there’s someone higher, and living for that Maker and Creator brings genuine and committed students who really care about their craft.” A benefit of being a student in the FHU art program is that the low student-teacher ratio allows for instructors to pay special attention to up-and-coming artists. Bundren teaches his students that art is very similar to the Christian life, “Art needs to be your passion—what you live every day.” A Christian education, for Bundren, does not exclude aesthetics or creativity because both are gifts of God.
When he is not teaching in the classroom, Bundren leads young artists in Freed-Hardeman’s Art Guild. The guild is an extension of the art program that encourages and fosters artistic development by exposing aspiring artists to art forms of every kind and providing resources for these young minds to create and grow artistically with practical concerns in mind. Another function of the guild is a service project each year. Many of the students create service ideas on their own and pursue them to fruition. Artists in the guild learn to be more individualistic and mature with their talent while seeing how they can glorify God through their creations.
Let us not forget that this student and teacher of art is also an artist, himself. Bundren stays busy artistically and is always in search of exhibition opportunities for his own work. His office, a spacious prism of white, is adorned with the most precious expressions of his own intuition. Each painting features a character experiencing humanity in its very essence. Bundren reminds the beholder of the feelings pathos, rebellion and disorientation that we accompany the human condition. The collection bears a consistency and a coherence that is undeniably human and real. “That’s the nature of art,” Bundren says, “it comes from what you see and feel and know about yourself, about the world—and about God.”