Artist-In-Residence Brings Creative Force to Rose-Hulman

Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Alan Bundza speaks with students in a Rose-Hulman art class.

Alan Bundza, as Rose-Hulman’s artist-in-residence, teaches one art class per quarter and spends the rest of his time working on his own artwork and collaborating with Rose’s different departments.

At a STEM-focused institution where answers are typically black or white, Professor Alan Bundza is teaching his students to work in shades of gray. As Rose-Hulman’s artist-in-residence, Bundza teaches one art class per quarter and spends the rest of his time working on his own artwork and collaborating with Rose’s different departments. 

His work explores in his own artistic work the relationship between nature and man-made objects, and boundaries between chaos and control. Those boundaries are realized daily in both the scientific and artistic fields and Bundza enjoys the challenge of seeing students navigate those realms. 

“Students often come in as engineers and expect answers to be either right or wrong,” said Bundza. “I explain how there is subjectivity to this process and there are multiple correct answers, because the abstract nature of art and receiving it in its forms is very subjective.”

Bundza earned his bachelor’s in art education from University of Indianapolis and a Master of Fine Arts from Indiana State University. His artwork started in the realms of drawing and painting and soon meshed into a mixed media approach. Upon moving to Indianapolis after graduate school, Bundza taught at various Indianapolis charter, middle and high schools and was an adjunct faculty member for UIndy. He saw the Rose-Hulman artist-in-residency opportunity as a chance to further his post-secondary teaching experience and expand his body of work.

He’s taught a variety of art classes at Rose, including drawing, art appreciation and 2D design and color. This quarter, he is co-teaching and helping to build the curriculum for a sculpture, kinetics and design class with Professor of Mathematics Josh Holden, PhD. Bundza enjoys seeing how his skills and the students complement each other.

“Their strength is building and design, making sure the function is legitimate,” he said. “And that is my weakness. It’s cool to see what they create.”

Bundza is Rose’s second artist-in-residence to support the visual arts, music, creative writing and other creative fields. The program began in 2018 and was put on hold from 2020 until fall of 2022 due to the pandemic.

Assistant Professor of Art Soully Abas started the artist-in-residence program with the goal of bringing a variety of artistic voices and styles to Rose and the greater Terre Haute community. 

“We really benefit from having artists on campus and they also benefit from the magic of Rose-Hulman’s engineering side,” said Abas. “Alan’s work is a beautiful cross between manmade objects and nature, which you can see apply to areas such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and 3D printing.”  

She believes Bundza’s art also helps students develop their creative thinking skills.

“Students are linear in how they think, and they think an artist problem should have an answer like a math problem,” said Abas. “When they see an artist at work and they see multiple creative solutions to the same creative or visual problem, it expands how they think about things.”

That’s exactly what happened for Kaitlyn Chandler, a first-year chemical engineering student, who took Introduction to Drawing with Bundza. She found the course beneficial for her coursework, as well as enjoyed learning about different ways to make an art piece look more appealing to the human eye. 

“Taking this class greatly enhanced my experience studying chemical engineering,” said Chandler. “It improved how I look at things from a different perspective and helped me focus on little details better. This is important for a chemical engineer’s ability to problem solve and become more detail oriented.”

Outside the classroom, Bundza works on his art pieces that are created and inspired by the Rose departments. He meets with department heads to learn about their fields and curriculum and finds ways to visually represent those abstract concepts in art form. For example, he relates a computer engineering chip to the brain and creates a piece of art around that idea. All his art explores the relationship between organic and man-made environments and technologies.

Bundza appreciates his time at Rose to create and expand his work and is grateful to the faculty for the support they’ve given him in his creative endeavors. He concludes his artist-in-residency in May and will exhibit his Rose-inspired artwork on campus in the fall 2023.