December 16, 2014
Drury art student Richard Hunter is proof that it’s never too late to learn something new. The 64-year-old graduated on Dec. 13 with an art degree. Hunter is a retired Vietnam veteran, and though he doesn’t consider himself a natural artist, he certainly has made an impression on his professors and classmates.
This year he received the Boyko Weltanschauung Award, which is presented to students who have made the biggest impact on art department faculty, and challenge instructors to re-examine their teaching strategies and think about why they teach. Hunter is just the second recipient in 11 years.
“As one of our older students, I find him completely open to critiques of his works and is one of the hardest working students that I have ever known,” said Rebecca Miller, a photography professor. “His life experiences bring so much to the classroom that he will be one of those students I will remember fondly for years to come because of his positive outlook on life.”
Hunter prefers working with ceramics and photography. As a beekeeper, he’s particularly inspired by bees and the hexagon shapes they make, which he’s incorporated into his art. He is also drawn to graffiti art and has photographed the traveling artwork on trains rolling through town.
One of Hunter’s biggest inspirations is his younger classmates.
“One of things I’ve absolutely loved is that I get to be around young artists and that I have had a chance to see art through their eyes,” said Hunter. “Being with young artists makes me feel young again! It stirs up my imagination.”
Hunter has also enjoyed working on the art department’s annual Veterans Day tradition of taking portrait photos of veterans free of charge. He would eventually like to start a volunteer art therapy program to aid disabled veterans.
“Art really helps disabled veterans to relax and seems to help heal people both mentally and physically,” said Hunter. “I just want to share what I have learned and maybe even learn from them.”
Hunter appreciated that his professors adjusted to his learning style and worked with him on an individual basis. The small school environment made him feel comfortable, he says.
“The teachers have really bent over backward to inspire me, encourage me to do good work and look at my art in different ways,” he says. “They’re willing to be more personal and they’re willing to listen.”
Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.