GVSU professor to participate in Petoskey artist in residency program

Dylan Grosser

The Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey, Michigan, has invited Bill Hosterman, associate professor of foundations, drawing and printmaking at Grand Valley State University, to participate in its four-week-long artist in residency program. Hosterman will be staying with a resident of the area and will be given food and a place to work on his art while interacting with the people of the city of Good Hart. He will be hosting a public workshop at the center from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, June 5, that will deal with combining pen and ink with watercolor.

Hosterman said he is interested in incorporating the concept of water into his work he’ll be creating while in Good Hart because of the town’s proximity to Lake Michigan. He said he’s also interested in the idea of immigration in relation to the town’s history and using that in the art he’ll be creating there as well.

“I’ll be visiting places and talking to people and incorporating the idea of the natural world in relation to the effects people have on it,” Hosterman said.

The art professor has worked at GVSU for 18 years. He was hired as he was finishing his graduate degree from Indiana University Bloomington in 1999. An alumnus from Pennsylvania State University, he was working as a graphic designer at a dead-end job before he began his collegiate career at age 26. He described himself as being a “lost kid,” suffering from mental illness, social ineptness and weight issues. Despite these setbacks, he discovered a way to look within himself and realize a talent that was key to his success in life: his ability to draw.

“I lived inside my head, (and) by living inside my head and having quite a bit of time on my hands, I drew,” Hosterman said.

By practicing over a long period of time, Hosterman said he had practically put himself through art school as a teenager. He said he experimented with many different styles and mediums, drawing different things and drawing with different materials.

“I basically taught myself how to draw,” he said. “I just have that kind of passion.”

When he draws, Hosterman said he is bridging a gap between the conscious and the subconscious parts of his mind. He said the decisions he makes in his art pieces are not made logically but rather by his artistic intuition.

“It’s just something that I feel a little like feeling love or anger,” he said. “It’s definitely something I’ve developed over a period of years. It’s a muscle, I guess you could say.”

His signature style of art, using pen and ink and then watercolor paint, has been showcased in art exhibits around the country. His works incorporate realistic elements—like birds, flowers, water, cliffs and trees—and transforms them into an almost dream-like landscape filled with narrow bends and twists. Hosterman said developing this unique style is something that he felt was most important to him.

“It’s the idea of creating an image that’s akin to poetry,” Hosterman said. “I want it to be something that, like a good book, people can go back to more than once and see something new inside.”

Sue Kelso is a resident of Petoskey and will be hosting Hosterman for the four weeks he will be staying there. She is also a member of the selection committee for the artists in residency program and said the committee chose Hosterman because of the quality and beauty of his work.

Hosterman will be staying in an apartment above Kelso’s garage and will be provided with food and a calm and relaxing environment to work on his art. Kelso has hosted artists for the program for the last four years and said the town of Good Hart is an “inspirational place for artists to be.”