This month we are excited to showcase art teacher and Art Academy director Mark Hollenbeck, who has been teaching at LuHi for close to twenty-five years! In addition to teaching Drawing/Painting 1 and 2, Intro to Computer Graphics, Crafts and Printmaking, leading the Art Academy, and coaching Tennis, he is also an artist himself whose work is inspired by his faith in Christ.
Mr. Hollenbeck’s creative interests began with his grandmother who was also an artist. “She and my mother always told me to draw whenever I had free time (I think they knew I wouldn’t get far in engineering.) My mother is a real encourager, and she always wanted me to be a teacher and artist.”
God’s call and his mother’s encouraging led him to Lutheran high schools in Queens, New York and Kansas City, Kansas and LuHi in Parker with his wife Diane, who is also a LuHi teacher. Today, thanks to Mr. Hollenbeck, Mrs. Hoza (Intro to Art), Mr. Nelson (Photography), and Mr. Allison (Sculpture/Ceramics), art students stay busy at LuHi between various art shows, the Paper Fashion show, and Chalk Art Festivals.
The Art Academy is a particularly unique opportunity for students to delve into their passions for professional or university work. But in Mr. Hollenbeck’s classroom, it is not centered on a future art career, awards or accolades; it is centered on God who inspires creativity and who is glorified through artistry. In his classroom, students are given many opportunities to express their faith on paper.
One such example occurred most recently, when Mr. Hollenbeck led the Art Academy students into a meaningful project for the widow of an artist whose husband had left behind unfinished paintings. The students were able to finish them for her as a loving tribute to her husband and his work. Mr. Hollenbeck describes it as “love in action in the art room.”
As an artist himself, Mr. Hollenbeck teaches the faith that inspires his own work. “My faith in Jesus is who I am and is a part of everything I do. So in that respect my faith and any artwork I do are bound together. When I used to teach Old Testament, I loved that in Exodus 31, God filled Bezalel with “the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge of craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs…” in order to build His tabernacle furnishings. It is inspiring to me that God sees artistic design as a necessary part of the world, but also an important part of worship.”
Mr. Hollenbeck’s love for art has led him to pursue all types of mediums, but drawing is his preference and strength. He has showcased his work at the National Youth Gathering, the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the International Harley Davidson Convention, and other events. His favorite project, however, was a 12 x 12 circle pastel painting that he painted with his daughter, Grace, at the National Youth Gathering in San Antonio.
A few final tidbits and wisdom from Mr. Hollenbeck
If you could meet any artist, past or present, who would it be?
I would love to meet Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. He has amazing paintings, and an incredible story. And he apparently played tennis.
If you could own any masterpiece in the world without cost, what would it be?
Maybe Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World. I’ve always loved that painting.
What is your favorite memory from your time at LuHi?
It is hard to pick one, but possibly when Mrs. H. shaved my head in front of the student body, who had brought food for over 100 Thanksgiving baskets to make it happen. I looked like Mr. Renquest does now.
What words of wisdom do you have for students pursuing a career in art?
My advice is for parents of artists. Many parents are very fearful that their child will not be able to make a living as an artist. But there are so many art related jobs that are not Fine Art. If your child has a passion for art, please encourage them. They can and will be successful in the art field if they are all in. And it is so much easier with your family behind you all the way.
If it is Fine Art they want to pursue, passion is so important. If money, or fame, or any selfish motivations are involved in pursuing art it probably won’t work. The artists I know who are full time aren’t the most talented artists I know, but they are the most passionate and won’t let anything keep them from producing their work.
Mr. Hollenbeck, thank you for your service and for demonstrating God’s gift of creativity in our LuHi community! May your art and teaching continue to inspire great faith and works of love.