As the swinging seat came to rest at the top of the Ferris wheel that overlooked Muncie Fairgrounds, Jonthan Bouw thought to himself, this is home.
From the rice fields of Southeast Asia as a missionary kid, to the cornfields of Upland as the Professor of Art, Jonathan Bouw, has been all over the world.
When listing motivations for choosing Taylor, location usually isn’t number one.
“Well, it wasn't for the topography,” Bouw said. “But you know what? It's been a good place for me and for my family.”
Bouw never pictured himself in Indiana of all places after living an outdoor lifestyle in Iowa skiing and hiking for so many years. However, after being at Taylor for 13 years, he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Taylor is the third Christian college that Bouw has taught, however he said that it is the first Christan college that he feels embodies the integration of faith and learning into the classroom authentically.
“I got tired of hearing students say that they learned more about the Lord from my art classes then some of their Bible classes,” Bouw said.
He never felt like he was doing anything spectacular in his classes to preach about God, but just that the colleges he previously taught at weren’t living out their declaration of faith effectively.
When he was looking to make the switch to a different university, he expressed that he just wanted to be at a place that was God-honoring. He found that at Taylor.
Bouw’s inspiration comes from his creator, who he lets drive his art.
“I love spending time with Christ, the artist behind everything else,”Bouw said. “Most of my art comes through that filter.”
Inspiration doesn’t just stop at the divine. Bouw finds inspiration through the people he has had the honor to work with. In his case, this means his students.
Bouw said that sometimes he has to get out of his student’s way and let them work. Later on, he can come alongside them and help them foster the gifts that God has given them.
“I think I'm tenacious, but sometimes I have seen some of my students who make my tenacity seem pale,” Bouw said.
Young people inspire Bouw in all aspects of his work.
For most artists, their most recent project is their most beloved. For Bouw it is no exception. Last year he contributed as an illustrator in the children’s book, “The Boy, The Kite and the Wind.”
This picture book was in partnership with the nonprofit company Compassion International to raise money for early childhood nutrition centers. This is in an effort to provide food for kids in third world countries. The book ended up selling over 5,000 copies.
Bouw said knowing that his hard work was saving children’s lives across the world was super fulfilling.
“It was a complete labor of love,” Bouw said.
Sharing the gift of art has always been at the core for him.
Bouw has never struggled with selling his art, if he feels like it is for a fair price. He views it as an honor for someone to see what he sees in his art and cherish it for themselves.
His house is filled with artwork and a lot of it isn’t even his own.
Bouw said every once and awhile he will steal a glance at the artwork in his home and reflect — he did not create the art, however it still has the ability to bring him joy and impact his world view.
“There's something remarkable about something you've made, that somebody else wants, but not just that they want it, but they want the thing that's part of your world to be part of their world,” Bouw said.
All the credit Bouw has received for his art he hands back to the Lord, the true author of his inspiration.