Steve Budington may have post-human cyborgs on the brain when he paints, but he's also drawing from, and exposing his students to, the masters. Budington's recent UVM exhibition of paintings and drawings explored what would happen to the physical body if it evolved at the rate of cultural innovations.
The assistant professor of art whose work is exhibited nationally (New York City) and internationally (Austria and Italy), asks those same curious questions in his classroom. "We all have ideas about what a good painting is, what a bad painting is and I want to unpack some of those," says Budington.
Check your notion of art being an easy credit at the classroom door. Budington asked one class to transcribe an artistic masterpiece. "It allows them to evaluate the formal structure of the painting, how the space is laid out, a lot of those basics of how you mix colors, how you lay out your palette, how light affects color and space and atmosphere."
Such rigorous assignments are all about giving students the language and tools they need for further self-expression, says Budington.
With a master's of fine arts in painting and printmaking from the Yale School of Art, it was surprisingly the liberal arts landscape of UVM that attracted Budington in 2007.
"I really enjoy working with students who are coming from philosophy or biology classes; they bring that into the painting class and that makes a much more interesting conversation about art," he says. "To be a painter is not to be hermetically sealed in your studio. I think to be a successful artist you have to be in the world; you have to know about what’s going on and respond, to be in conversation with those things. The best painters in history have done that, always."