John Gambell

David Bumbeck and Bruce Muirhead were the first practicing visual artists that I knew.  I loved their work, and I was surprised and flattered by the way that they approached their students as colleagues—all of us working together, artists, learning by looking, making, and making again.  This studio experience created an identity crisis.  I’d fancied myself a poet and was already well into an English major when I took Bumbeck’s great winter-term woodcut course in 1970.  An issue of split interests has followed me for 50 years.  English professor David Littlefield once said to me, out of the blue, that he thought I’d have some kind of career in academe.  Maybe accordingly, I’ve pursued book design and have had a long run as a university art director and teacher, helping to fuse my visual and verbal parts.  That said, I’ve never entirely recaptured in my work the intense excitement of cutting fresh pine blocks and pulling prints in Dave Bumbeck’s winter-term course.