This story is part of a series featuring faculty members who are retiring in 2021.
Randolph art professor Kathy Muehlemann has always thought of herself as an artist who teaches— not a teacher who makes art.
“It is a distinction I found necessary so that my feet were firmly planted in art,” she said. “In that way, I would have something of substance to speak about. I have continued to show my work in museums and galleries. I travel regularly to see exhibitions and to spend time with artists in their studios.”
Muehlemann, who is retiring this year after 26 years at the College, has also curated exhibitions, including seven for the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College.
Here’s more of what she had to say about her time behind the Red Brick Wall:
Where did your passion and interest in art come from?
“My passion for art came from looking at art. It is said that when you make art, you break bread with the dead. I can sit at the table with Goya or Brueghel or any number of other beloved artists, and they help me. Teaching drew me because I could share with students my love and knowledge of art, and students could inspire me as well.”
Could you talk a little bit about what it’s like to work with young artists just starting to find their own passions and inspirations?
“Working with young artists is like trying to start a small fire. Patience and respect and the joy of looking at art together leads to many paths. Welcoming the element of surprise into the studio is better than trying to figure things out ahead of time. As Cezanne said, ‘The only proper way to talk about art is in front of it.’ So conversations need that presence of the art itself to generate a fire.”
What is your teaching philosophy and how have you approached that here at Randolph?
“My teaching philosophy is akin to riding a horse without a bridle. Hang on and be alive to the ride. It is not about talent or producing a pretty object. It is bigger than that. Teaching should not reduce the experience but allow it to bloom.”
What are your favorite courses to teach?
“Oil painting, animal drawing, and children’s book illustration.”
What advice would you give to students?
“My advice to students is to get to a city with art and artists and live there a while to soak it up and store it up.”
What’s next for you?
“An artist never retires, so when I leave teaching, I will be in my studio with a wonderful apron of time around me.”