June 30, 2010
Armin Mühsam has lived throughout the world, but painting has become his primary language.
And during the 2009-10 school year, Mühsam, associate professor of painting and drawing at Northwest, shared his painting and other artworks in 22 exhibits across the globe, including 13 juried shows and a number of invitational exhibits. His work was recognized with awards at six of those exhibits.
Recently, he completed a series of nine paintings to be displayed in a solo showing in Germany, opening earlier this month.
Mühsam cited his "Replacement Landscapes" - which were shown in a solo exhibition at the Brukenthal Museum in Sibiu, Romania - as one his proudest accomplishments because the show put his work on an international museum stage.
"I had close to 30 paintings in that show and they were my signature work," Mühsam said. "The space was very beautiful and the paintings looked good in the space. All-around, it was a very good experience."
While Mühsam's also has exhibited some of his figure drawings, landscapes remain his niche.
"There are no longer Leonardo da Vinci's that do everything," Mühsam said. "So just like every scientist has to specialize in something, whether it's bats or a certain type of rock, artists have to narrow it down and then try to develop a cohesive, philosophically-sound body of work. In my case, that happens to be landscapes."
Mühsam began painting as a child living in Munich, but it was an art teacher during his youth who helped him learn that art could be more than just a hobby. That teacher, who was a friend of Mühsam's father, inspired him to attend art school.
Mühsam earned his bachelor's of fine arts from the University of Applied Sciences in Munich, Germany and his master's of fine arts in painting from Montana State University in Bozeman.
"I never thought I could do anything else; it was just a natural progression," Mühsam said. "I've always been creative in a sense. I think painting is simply, for me, the most versatile way to express ideas visually."
Mühsam joined the Northwest faculty in 2000 as director of the painting program, where he is responsible for teaching all levels of painting. He also oversees and teaches all levels of the drawing program.
Prior to coming to Northwest, Mühsam taught painting and drawing at Munich Community College and at various private art schools. He also served as editor for the visual arts section of "Applaus," a monthly magazine covering Munich's cultural scene.
Mühsam's work has been featured in dozens of solo shows and invitational exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad, and he'd had his work included in more than 100 national juried shows.
In the classroom, Mühsam said his focus is educating students, using his personal experiences, about becoming an artist and showing students that their passions can be more than a hobby.
"The stuff that I do as an artist, as a painter, informs everything that I teach, starting with my own formative years, how I developed as a young artist and thinking back to how my teachers shaped me and influenced me," Mühsam said. "Back then, I was always in awe of my teachers who were active as artists, how you could successfully express quite complex ideas visually, and also have success with the idea. Now I'm in the same place and I can hand that gained experience to my students."