31 Days, 31 People
Day 15: JIM

I really loved a lot of my teachers in the fine art department at UNLV, but one really stands above the rest, and not just because he’s about 6’ 7” tall.

Jim taught printmaking and advanced drawing. I remember feeling a little intimidated walking in on the first day of class, but it took no time at all for Jim to move into first place position on my favorite college professor list. Jim had a way of pushing me to grow further than anyone had ever pushed me. He asked a lot of questions, offered so many insights and references. I spent so much time checking out books and researching everything he pointed me toward. He really knew how to spark curiosity in me, the hunger to learn so much more. To explore influences.

I recall you could repeat Jim’s advanced drawing course for up to 12 credits (or three semesters) and I did that. And I added an independent study course in the summer before my last semester, as well. That summer was a really introspective one and I made artwork like I never had before.

I was working at Nevada State Parks as a seasonal park ranger, it was my fifth season and I’d transferred from Spring Valley to Beaver Dam. Beaver Dam was a really remote park compared to most of the other parks in District V. Once you found the turnoff from the highway, you had to drive for about 25 miles on a pretty rough dirt road to get there. I was the only ranger that worked full time in the park, it never got very busy out there. The ranger residence where I lived during the week was this little tiny studio-like house, probably about 450 square feet. It had a bathroom with a flush toilet and a shower, and the rest was an open space, with a kitchen area, a desk, and a bed. It was solar powered and had a wood burning stove. I remember feeling like I related to Henry David Thoreau in Walden. Jim recommended I read Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. It was perfect! On my days off, I’d drive three hours to Las Vegas to check in with my independent study professors.

Jim really pushed me to incorporate drawing with the other mediums I worked in, like metal work and found objects. And much more than that, Jim really pushed me to tell my stories through my work. To this day, I credit Jim for what I learned in school in terms of communicating and selling concepts to clients. Selling has been a huge part of my work over the past 17 years.

Thank you, Jim. Thank you for being a passionate and dedicated professor. Thank you for teaching me the art, beauty and possibility of storytelling through any medium that would give me a voice.



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