Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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July 1, 2013

YOU SHOULD KNOW: Marvin Bartel

Former Goshen College professor promotes creativity for children

GOSHEN — Marvin Bartel has been an active member of the Goshen community since 1970 when he became an art professor at Goshen College .

He came from an art position at Northeast Missouri State, and “Goshen (College) was looking for a teacher and knew I had what they were looking for, so they invited me,” Bartel said.

Even though he had been pleased with his position at the university, “There were some things that I thought would be a better fit for our family (in Goshen). The schools were better here and I like the working conditions at Goshen even though the salary was lower,” Bartel said. At Goshen College he taught design, ceramics, photography, architectural drawing, and methods of teaching art.  

“Goshen College was more in keeping with my personal beliefs at the time. It’s been a very positive thing. All our children did well in school.”

He retired in 2002 and his wife, Delores, retired as a college nurse from GC, as well.

“I’m a designer and I make stuff. I built a studio in 1980 and designed our house. I had a builder from the area build it. It was a good experience,” he said. “We needed a dictionary stand so I made it from stoneware.  I make a lot of things out of clay. The house includes four sinks that I made. It has handhewn beams and other materials I salvaged from the historic Kundred Gladiola Farm barn near Goshen. The studio is entirely built from locally grown lumber.”

During his years at the college, he was a full-time faculty member and a part-time artist.

He has been involved with Goshen truck traffic issues throughout the years and after his retirement, his involvement in other communities extends beyond the Goshen community to the art teacher community, Goshen pottery and jewelry guild communities, the education community and the preschooler community.

“The best way to be a community member is to be willing to ask about assumptions,” he said.

“I feel privileged to share with art teachers and inspire them to teach creativity. We need to teach creativity and just not (have students) put paint on a canvas,” Bartel said, showing a website he designed and maintains on art education.

“We need to foster the creative thinking process. I tell them to ask We need to use questions, to offer make choices and give options to make comparisons. (Let students) make discoveries rather than perfect something already known.”

He says the way to teach art history is to let students discover historical artists and their styles of art by doing their own work first, and then show examples.

“I don’t show them art history examples first. It is like giving answers before learning to solve the problem ,” Bartel said.

He’s a part of the education community because “I am interested in it because I was a teacher for all of my working career.” In April he spent two weeks consulting for a school in Brazil. In June he met with art teachers in North Carolina.

He said he feels teachers need to focus more on people training which “is to learn to think on your own.”

His two oldest children are scientists and “in science they value creativity very much,” he added. “Creative artists are not always inclined to be careful. Sometimes I let the chips fall (in his pottery) and I don’t get upset if it fails. Sometimes things fail and scientists can at times make discoveries the same way. In both art and science, an unexpected result isn’t necessarily a mistake, it can be a discovery.”

Highly creative people in all fields are skeptical and tend to have many things going on at once, he added, “with skeptical meaning nothing is absolute.”

He’s been involved with the preschooler community and teaching art to 3- and-4-year-olds as well teaching drawing for 1st and 2nd graders at the Goshen Boys and Girls Club.  “As a person in his 70s, I am thinking about how preschoolers need to think,” he said, smiling. “It has challenged me to figure out how to have students learn how to self-learn and to try things that haven’t already been perfected.”

Bartel continues to produce clay art work in his Goshen studio. Since the Goshen Jewelers Guild began a year ago, he’s been designing and making jewelry again.

“I’m not new to jewelry but I haven’t done it since the 1960s,” he said, “when I was exhibiting my jewelry nationally.”

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