About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.
Benjamin D. Rinehart, a professor of printmaking and artist books, knows a thing or two about the creative field of book-making. He’s written the book on it.
A member of the Lawrence art faculty since 2006, Rinehart specializes in socially charged images with an emphasis on printmaking, book constructions, painting, and drawing. His work is included in numerous public and private collections and has been exhibited both nationally and internationally.
He’s the author of Creating Books & Boxes, a book that explores a range of art techniques.
Rinehart received a bachelor’s degree at Herron School of Art and a master’s degree at Louisiana State University and previously taught at Pratt Institute in New York and New Jersey, Rutgers/Mason Gross School of the Arts, Long Island University, Fordham University, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Manhattan Graphics Center.
We caught up with him to talk about his passions in and out of the classroom.
In the classroom
Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?
I aim to create a welcoming, challenging, and equitable learning environment in my classes. Teaching and making art are two of my greatest passions in life aside from my family—including the fur babies. I enjoy finding solutions to problems and challenges whether big or small. I especially enjoy anything centered around artistic practice.
Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?
Becoming a Posse mentor is one of my proudest achievements on campus. In the past year and a half, I have learned so much about myself and the scholars that I support. It has made me a better advisor, teacher, advocate, artist, and socially engaged human being. The connections that I’ve made through this program are extremely meaningful and fulfilling.
Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?
I moved to NYC with less than $1,500 in my bank account after grad school with no job prospects. Expecting to only stay for a year, I was reluctant to settle down. Things in my life started falling into place after a few months and I made connections all along the eastern seaboard that I maintain to this day. The eight years that I spent in NYC—Brooklyn primarily—was an exciting, uncertain, challenging, and extremely rewarding time in my life.
Out of the classroom
This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?
I would definitely want to become a chef. I love making a wide variety of foods, and it’s a fun challenge to try out new recipes. Cuisine outside of the United States offers a glimpse into commonalities between cultures. They all seem to have a similar foundation when beginning the cooking process, but the ingredients vary according to region and availability. One of our family favorites is a Masaman curry with homemade naan and mango lassis. Serving others something tasty brings me great joy. It is satisfying to see smiling faces after spending time in the kitchen whether it be from the flavor or presentation. Only the best recipes make it into the family cookbook.
Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?
I enjoy the view from the hill behind Memorial Hall. Seeing the garden, river, and shoreline offers a peaceful vantage point. Seeing bald eagles isn’t something that I ever saw growing up, and their majestic presence is undeniable. Also, I hear the hill is amazing for sledding during the winter. I haven’t tried it out yet but imagine that I would be screaming (mostly with joy) the entire way down.
One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?
The book Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin is a work that has influenced my view of the world since I first read it. Perhaps it’s cliché, but his writing style and observations resonated with me deeply. Baldwin represented a world that was real and fraught with problems while simultaneously and desperately trying to connect with others. He was a person who was decades ahead of his time and is still one of my heroes.
I never grow tired of listening to Sade. Her hypnotic voice floods my brain, encouraging creative flow and contemplation.
It’s hard to pinpoint a single film, so I choose any of the Marvel movies.