10 questions with

Phil Sugden

Why do you enjoy teaching at Bluffton? What makes it unique?
I think you get a better education in a place where there is one-on-one interaction. In the art department, when students are working on a project we can be right there for students and their individual needs.

What excites me about teaching in the art department?
It is exciting to watch students wake up to creative ideas. Most students here come from rural areas, as opposed to large cities so this is their first chance to get out and explore. For one project, we read the universal human rights. Each student wrote a paragraph about it and how to deal with those issues as an artist. We try to get students to make real statements with their art, not just draw pretty pictures.

I knew I was destined to teach art when
When I started taking on private students in my studio a few years after college. I started working with high school and college aged kids on putting together college portfolios. I still teach one or two students out of my studio.

Favorite class to teach and why
Independent study. Students are creating their own. They propose ideas and explore different techniques and styles. Usually juniors or seniors are in this course, they're the ones who are making the big discoveries and connections with their art.

Favorite place/time/event on campus
I get here between 6:30-7:30 a.m. for an early class. I'll sit here in the office, close my eyes for 20 minutes and meditate. It clears my head and I can focus my mind on what I am doing in class today.

When I'm not teaching
I'm in the studio in Findlay painting. I travel a lot. I've taken 12 trips to Tibet. In the summer, my wife and I travel to India or Tibet.

My favorite elementary/middle/high school teacher was
Mrs. Nichols, my middle school art teacher. She was very creative, she made art fun, made students want to work. Now she's a representative for Crayola.

My first job was
Building Schwinn bicycles when I was 16 at a bike store in downtown Findlay. I got paid 60 cents an hour. The bikes would come in big boxes and we would take them out and assemble them. We would also fix bicycles that people would bring in.

As a college student
I was in Manhattan in New York City as an undergrad. I would go to Hindu and Buddhist meditation classes. I was interested in different belief systems. New York gave me the opportunity to do that. After graduation, I took a six month trip to Istanbul which was my first taste of Eastern religions.

Favorite vacation destination/activity
Trekking in the Himalayas. My wife and I were married two years ago at a monastery near Mt. Everest.

Someday I would like to (my bucket list)
I would like to go to Calcutta and work in Mother Theresa 's hospice for a month. I would like to go back to the monastery where my wife and I were married for a retreat.