Professor Don VanAuken has been teaching at Olivet since 2015. He graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design with a bachelor’s of fine art in illustration in 1997 and received his master’s degree in painting from The Ohio University in 2007. Professor VanAuken has worked in secondary public arts education, in the museum field and as an art instructor with Kellogg Community College and Kalamazoo Community College. His art has been exhibited regionally, nationally and internationally and is in more than 45 public and private collections.
As an educator in the visual arts, Professor VanAuken states that an instructor’s responsibility is to provide students with the self-motivation and critical thinking skills that will carry them beyond the classroom. These skills aid in developing a sense of curiosity and desire in the creation of their art. He strives to identify his students’ strengths, find new approaches to how they learn and adapt the implementation of his curriculum to best suit their needs.
Professor VanAuken’s artwork focuses on location and his surrounding environment, which has played a crucial role in his creative process. The visual references of local wild life and fauna within this setting are allegorical, used as a means to explore situations, quandaries, and everyday experiences, contributing to the larger narrative constantly evolving in his prints and paintings.