By Tim Evancho | Royal Report
Wayne Roosa achieved two Fine Arts bachelor’s degrees in painting and art history from the University of Colorado. In 1973, Wayne attended Rutgers University to receive his master’s degree, along with receiveing his PhD in art history in 1989. It was here, while finishing up the program, that Roosa became aware of a posting about a conference of Christian artists organized by the founder of Bethel’s Art Department, Eugene Johnson.
Interested in this event, Roosa contacted Johnson to ask if there was any information about the Christian Artist Conference. On a Sunday night a few weeks later, Roosa received a phone call. It was Johnson.
“Yeah… I decided writing was a big hassle — why don’t we just talk about it?” Johnson told Roosa.
The two talked about the conference and Johnson started asking Roosa about his plans for the future: “So you’re going to be an art historian? When do you graduate?”
This conversation led to the fact that Bethel was interested in hiring its first art historian. On the phone on that same Sunday night, Johnson gave Roosa an interview. A short time later, Roosa completed an in-person interview.
He got the job. In 1983, Wayne Roosa began his career at Bethel University as the school’s first art historian and is now the department chair of the Bethel Art Department.
“I know that we create a platform of knowledge, of technical skills, of how to think, how to think about thinking, how to create. And it has served people really well,” Roosa said.
Currently, Bethel art graduates work in a wide variety of areas within the creative field. Some of these areas include advertising, art education K-12, art history, computer graphics and digital design, environmental design, fashion design and more.
Jayme Buchelt graduated from Bethel in 2013 with an art degree.
“One thing I loved about studying art through Bethel was that although the department is small, the staff are mighty,” Buchelt said. “(Professors) all have achieved many accomplishments in their own personal careers and are still out working in the real world as well
as teaching. They are also so very supportive of each individual
person as their own work grows.”
Her major’s emphasis was painting and her minor was art history. Upon graduation, Buchelt searched for a job. Though she has not found her “dream job” yet, she now works as a custom framing consultant at Deck the Walls.
“This job allows me to use my artistic ability as well as allow the proper time for me to keep making my own art,” she said.
Buchelt is applying to graduate schools, where she will study painting and drawing.
Phillip Schmidt was set to major in pre-medicine biology at Bethel, but after he took ceramics his sophomore year, he fell in love with creating pots.
“I knew God had made me to be a maker,” he says.
Schmidt’s trust in God along with his newfound love for ceramics led him to change his major to studio art with a minor in biology. After graduation in 2009, Schmidt took a year off to refine his craft while working alongside Steve Rolf, a potter in Wisconsin. Within the community of potters at Bethel, Schmidt formed an annual pottery sale that features pottery creations by various artists, including his own. Schmidt works at Deneen Pottery, where he turns over 200 pots in a single day.
“One of the more satisfying things is seeing how much work I am actually able to produce,” Schmidt said.
Ben Roosa graduated from Bethel with a photography emphasis and ended up with a longboard company and a job at a cabinet shop.
“It has been a lot of fun building a business and I’ve been able to meet a lot of people and do a lot of interesting things through (art), if nothing else,” he said.
After graduating from Bethel, Ben worked as a carpenter for a remodeling company. Three years later, Ben went to work for a friend, Matt Eastvold, who is also a Bethel graduate with a custom cabinet company. Together they decided to develop a side business in making furniture.
“Unfortunately when the economy tanked in 2008, (the furniture) company did, too,” Ben said.
Ben is the son of department chair Wayne Roosa.
“I had grown up building all kinds of things with my dad and I wanted to learn more,” Ben said.
While working with Eastvold, Ben became aware of a material called Richlite, a paper composite made from eco-friendly and recycled paper.
“It is an amazing material, strong, waterproof, heat resistant and flexible,” Ben said.
Still inspired to make something using this material and use his passion for creation, Ben shared this with a friend, Scott Hansen. One night, Hansen dreamed he was cruising on a longboard made of Richlite. With that, Grow Anthology was born.
This is a side business for Ben and Hansen, as they still maintain full-time jobs. Three years ago Ben moved to Olympia, Washington, to work at a custom cabinet company called Beech Tree Woodworks. Ben is the project leader.
“I basically take the project once a contract is signed and do the drawings and deal with the clients and designers and see the project through completion,” he said.
Similarly, Ben’s role in his side longboard business is board design and marketing, including photography and video.
Wayne Roose says success in the art world can take many forms, but the common denominators are hard work and finding passion in the art.
“It comes down to an age-old truth,” Roosa said. “How seriously are you taking yourself? How hard have you worked?”
There is always more to learn and areas to explore that can’t be fit into a four-year academic plan.
“If you think ‘big picture’, like, think of the role of images in our culture, it’s incredibly diverse and present but images are everywhere,” Roosa said. “Well, all those images were made by somebody. Everything was designed by somebody. If you track that back, it is almost always someone who graduated with an art or design major.”