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Winter is Coming
Works by Barbara Bushey and Doug Coon
Artists Reception 2016 Courtesy | Barbara Bushey

In 2001, Barbara Bushey dis­covered Hillsdale. Now, 21 years later, she’s ready to retire. 

Bushey, who cur­rently serves as the head of the art department, earned her Bachelor of Science in psy­chology from the Uni­versity of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts from Eastern Michigan Uni­versity. 

Before coming to Hillsdale, Bushey taught various part-time teaching posi­tions across south­eastern Michigan. Since being at Hillsdale, she’s taught mul­tiple art history courses — pre­his­toric art, medieval art, renais­sance art, modern art, and non-western art — and basic design classes. 

But what’s truly unique to Bushey’s artistry is her love of tex­tiles. 

“My work is an explo­ration of what is hidden and what is revealed, whether in a visual, emo­tional, or his­torical sense,” Bushey said in her art statement. “Working with layers, both phys­i­cally and visually, allows me to explore this com­plexity. I cel­e­brate the beauty of the natural world.”

Bushey’s work above, “Superior Med­i­tation: In the Sun,” is inspired by Lake Superior. 

“The majesty and power of Lake Superior intrigues and nour­ishes me,” she said.  

Bushey has been working in tex­tiles for over 25 years. Her work has appeared three times in Quilt National, and is in per­manent col­lec­tions at The White House, the Uni­versity of Wyoming, and Hillsdale College. Her work has been pub­lished in Art/Quilt Mag­azine and Surface Design Journal. Bushey also serves on the board of Fib­erArts Network. 

“I dye most of my own fabrics in order to have total control over my work,” Bushey said. “I hope that my work rises above mere craft to the level of com­mu­ni­cation we can jus­ti­fiably call art.”

Bushey plans to keep cre­ating tex­tiles in her retirement, though she said she will miss the teaching com­munity of Hillsdale. 

“It’s good to work some­where where everyone sup­ports you,” Bushey said. “I’m a better teacher than I used to be.”

Sophomore Caleb Holm took one class from Bushey last year and imme­di­ately loved it. 

“Bushey is incredibly funny, bru­tally honest, and dan­ger­ously witty,” Holm said. “I took one class with her at the beginning of sophomore year and right from her intro­duction of ‘Hello friends, let’s be kind to one another this semester,’ I was hooked.”

Rachael Reynolds ’18, who is pur­suing her PhD in art history, said that she didn’t declare her art major until the second semester of her junior year. Bushey made it pos­sible for her to stay an extra year and take nearly every class the art department offered. 

“This oppor­tunity was such a crucial pivot in my life, and I have her to thank for all it has made pos­sible,” Reynolds said. “As an edu­cator, she is willing to go so far above and beyond for her stu­dents, often at the cost of time ded­i­cated to her own work.”

Reynolds said that Bushey pre­pared her for graduate school, and she even feels far more pre­pared than some of her peers who attended Ivy’s with twenty-plus faculty members.

“I talk to her at least weekly, often daily,” Reynolds said. “I am so appre­ciative that one of my most impactful mentors has become a close friend.”

Pro­fessor of art Julio Suarez, who has taught at Hillsdale for six years, will be taking Bushey’s spot as head of the art department. 

“I feel grateful that I have the oppor­tunity to help maintain the stan­dards that Pro­fessor Bushey has set for the Hillsdale Art Department during her time as chair,” Suarez said. “I look forward to con­tinuing to work with my col­leagues and amazing students.”

For her parting words, Bushey offered simple, yet striking advice. 

“Make the work you want to see. Hard work trumps talent every time,” she said. “Inspi­ration is for ama­teurs: Get to work.”