February 27, 2021

The seven elements of Bruce Wall

By Melanie Kelliher

The Commuter

Retiring after 27 years mentoring students in the six elements of his profession, Bruce Wall, director of NCC’s Fine Art program, leaves a legacy reflected in those six elements.

1. Wall’s color

  •  Hue: As a child, Wall created imaginary worlds while playing in the dirt of his backyard. “I didn’t know then that was art,” he says.  
  • Value: In the summer of 1972, Wall’s relationship with art became serious.

“When I was 18 years old, sitting in an Art History classroom, I saw slides of Jackson Pollock’s large ‘drip’ paintings. I had an inexplicable epiphany,” he says.

  • Intensity: Pollock’s paintings amplified something in Wall.

“It was almost scary, like falling in love, something primal,” he recalls. “I didn’t know if I would recover from it.”

Wall didn’t know who Pollock was but the work was an experience. He ran to the library looking for anything he could find to learn more.  

  1. Wall’s line

“Around 1973, I realized art was the only subject that I had an unconditional fascination with,” Wall says.

He attended the University of Texas, Austin, for his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and got his Master’s in Fine Art from Rhode Island School of Design.

He finished with honors but characterizes himself starting as a mediocre art student.

“I had no previous experience and I soon realized I had a lot of catching up to do,” Wall says. “Once that was clear I went after it with total obsession.”

  1. Wall’s shape 
  2. Width: “I was trying, with limited success, to be some kind of hippy intellectual, so I didn’t cut my hair for six years,” Wall says. “The hair was undoubtedly more convincing than my intellect.”
  3. Height: Studio professor Richard Jordan is the teacher who stretched Wall’s mind as a student.

“Jordan started out as a doctor and switched to art,” Wall explains.

“He absolutely loved it and knew pretty much everything about the subject.  His knowledge of art history was encyclopedic.”

  1. Wall’s form

Wall’s shape took form when he met his wife, Rhonda Schneider, at graduate school. They moved to New York where they got married in 1979. Together they had a son, Alex Wall, in the late ‘80s while Bruce was working long hours at part-time jobs.

In 1992 the Wall family moved to Easton, where Bruce became the Fine Art advisor for Liquitex. He worked there until his adjunct position at NCC turned into a full-time Assistant Professor position in 2002.

“YES!,” Wall says as he looks forward to retiring from his teaching position to become a full-time artist.


5.Wall’s space

Wall’s passion for art reaches into the depths of his every day. Besides keeping a daily sketchbook, he continually experiments with materials in his basement studio as part of his creative routine.

“Art happens wherever and whenever you’re ready to see or make it,” he says. “I’m always ready to create it. My students can tell you that I carry a ridiculous amount of stuff on my person every day: pencils, erasures, markers, mat knives, X-acto knives, paper clips, mini-sketchbooks, Band-Aids, and a ‘Wave’ multi-tool on my belt with 21 different things in it.”

  1. Wall’s texture

“Paint is my thing. I try and use it in the most unusual ways I can think of,” Wall says. Unlimited in his imagination with mediums, he uses anything to get the work done.

“I just love messing around with materials,” he says.

  1. Wall’s value

“Teaching continuously reminds me to practice what I preach,” he says.

       The memory Wall cherishes out of his 27 years of teaching is receiving the first Lipkin Endowed Chair Award for his “Art of Indian Kolam” projects, lectures and exhibitions.

“It was a dream to share with NCC what I learned while traveling extensively in India on a Fulbright Grant right after I finished graduate school,” he says.  

The Individual Studio/Professional Practice courses remain his favorite.


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