For Arts Director Harold Burgess, inspiration can come in many forms. From his mentors to his students, he has learned to view his love of art from many perspectives and find a spark of inspiration in everyday wonders. The lighting designer and recipient of a Master of Fine Arts in theatrical design treasures fatherhood, travel, and the arts.
We sat down with Mr. Burgess to learn more about his passions, gain some life advice, discover what he enjoys about teaching, and more.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at 18 years old?
That’s a long time ago. What advice would I give to myself at 18 years old? Be yourself. Be you. Embrace that, for sure. Enjoy every moment because it goes quickly, especially being at that college age. I think it’s probably the fastest four or five years of your life. So I would say, enjoy every moment, and don’t take for granted the little things.
Where do you find your inspiration in art?
I think I draw inspiration from seeing the things that others do, whether it be something that’s arts-related or non-arts related. I think the inspiration can come in many different forms. Sometimes, you don’t realize you’re being inspired until after the fact. I also draw upon inspiration from students. For example, we just had our ArtsFest this past weekend, and to see all their work on display or being performed is inspirational in itself. Being that young, to have that kind of experience, is really a great thing. Looking back at their experiences is a great thing.
What has been your most interesting life experience?
Well, I think I’m in it right now. Having kids, and watching them grow, and all of the things that come with that -- there’s nothing quite like it. There’s nothing that prepares you for it. There’s nothing that I really think you can compare it to. So just having two boys is pretty incredible.
How would you describe your teaching method?
Because I’m in the arts, it doesn’t take a linear path, necessarily. I think a lot of my teaching is about trying to get people to open their eyes and see things from a different perspective and to appreciate that. I think it’s about trying to get people to talk and to listen, particularly the listening part. That’s a really hard skill to learn – how to listen and know when to listen. So I think it’s a combination of those things: communication, understanding, and listening.
What is currently on your bucket list?
I can tell you there are some things that were on my bucket list that I’ve since checked off. One was that I’ve always wanted to become a pilot, and while I didn’t necessarily finish my pilot training and get my pilot’s license, I did actually fly a plane several times, and that was cool.
What else would I do on a bucket list? I think I would love to spend more time doing more photography-related things. I just haven’t had the time to really do it the way I want to do it, which would be to go and travel and do some photography of nature.