student in media lab

Bill Brayton: The Art of Teaching

Bill Brayton moves deliberately through the bright, white-walled Art Barn classroom.

Hampshire professor Bill Brayton with studentsHis students are scattered throughout the room, some on the floor, others perched on chairs and stools, all working on their latest drawings.

The professor of art stops to talk with each one, listening as they explain what exactly they are doing on the paper, what they ideally want to do, and what are the difficulties of the project. Brayton nods, asks and answers questions, then lets the artist return to their work.

After decades as both an artist and professor, he still is pleasantly surprised by the end results of all this creativity.

"Our alums humble me. Every year I hear about their impressive achievements in the art world," he says.

"My sculpture has always engaged ideas about drawing. There's usually a lot of line in it. I don't really plan a sculpture out in a drawing. It lives in a parallel world," he says.

Back at Hampshire, Brayton finds new inspiration from his students. Among the ones who are currently working on Division III projects are Christopher Cole 07F and Zaidee Everett 07F.

Bill BraytonCole has shown twice at the Student Union Gallery at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and recently had a solo Div III exhibition at the Hampshire Library Gallery.

"Chris is really smart and serious about his work. He is undoubtedly going to continue to develop it in a good graduate school and beyond," Brayton says.

Zaidee is focusing her Div III work on soft fabric sculpture and printmaking based on "creatures" of her own design. Viewers of her art are encouraged to touch and interact with it.

"Zaidee has worked at a day program for the mentally ill, and a lot of the inspiration for her work came from seeing how objects can be used to change a person's emotional state. She links sculpture to psychology in a very playful and insightful way."

Supporting the Hampshire Fund
The Hampshire Fund, Brayton notes, is an essential tool for allowing these art projects to be made.

By supporting students, faculty, and staff, Hampshire can provide an environment in which they can thrive and push the boundaries not only of their own abilities, but, as he has seen many times over the years, the art world itself.

"Students need our support to give them the freedom to be creative."
-- Bill Brayton, professor of art
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