John Stewart: Up close and personal

Stewart lectures his basic drawing class before students headed to Krohn Conservatory for an assignment.

An artist once said, "" It is a good thing to have an open mind, but it shouldn't be so open that your brain falls out and runs out in the street."" Although many might cringe at the image of this old Yiddish saying, professor of fine arts John Stewart finds inspiration.

As some teachers have come to accept the new ways of education (with online classes and homework available on Blackboard, etc.), traditionalist Stewart still likes ""to listen to [his] music.""

Keeping with the basic teaching style, based on the student-teacher interaction, Stewart focuses on providing an educated mind while offering a sympathetic ear.

""There's a level of intimidation that makes it hard for students to talk to their teachers if they can't think of them as a friend as well,"" said Jason Butler, a student of Stewart's and a first-year fine arts student

Stewart understands this and has made it a goal to center his teachings towards a relationship-based education. He feels human interaction is ""where the rubber meets the road"" or for those of us less proverb oriented, ""where the action is.""

His classes focus on painting and printmaking with special attention to color schemes, which some might find ironic considering that Stewart is colorblind.

His sight may not be perfect but this does not conflict with his incredible classes where he provides students with the ""tools they need to succeed and then sets them free,"" as one student commented.

His ability to fuse nature, color and a paintbrush has also gained many awards and honors, such as the commission of Cincinnati's bicentennial painting project.

The list of Stewart's achievements is endless, but if you ask him which one is most treasured, it would be his special Dean's Award for Professor of the Year, a student-nominated award.

Stewart shows his dedication to his students by making sure his time here at the University of Cincinnati is beneficial to them.

""My goal is to be one of the two best teachers a student will have,"" Stewart said. ""When students graduate I want them to be able to say 'I don't need you anymore cause I have learned all the skills I need.'""

Born in Kansas, Stewart began his life as an ""Air Force brat"" (by his own description), experiencing the American frontier while constantly relocating throughout his early childhood.

Stewart eventually settled down in early adulthood to begin his bachelor's studies at the University of Colorado for printmaking and sculpture.

Stewart then moved on from Colorado to earn a master's degree at University of California at Santa Barbara.

After graduation, Stewart established the printmaking department at the University of North Carolina.

After completing the department, Stewart had a ""Now what do I do?"" mentality and took an opening at the UC.

More than 30 years later, Stewart has continued to instruct and inspire students of the Design, Architecture, Art and Planning Colleges.

The idea that those who can't do, teach, is far from accurate for Stewart. As an exhibitor, Stewart has been praised in the art world for his outstanding work.

From New York to Arizona, his pieces have been exhibited nationwide, with collections in places like the Whitney Museum, Baltimore Art Museum and the Corcoran Museum of Art.

Although many may feel they are prepared enough to move on without guidance, countless students keep close contact with Stewart anyway, because of the profound effect he had on their life, one that many don't want to lose.

Doted on by his colleagues and students, the man behind the wire-rimmed glasses is arguably one of the greatest contributors to many students' overall experience at DAAP.