We Produce Artists Too

Colleen Stein

Colleen Stein

Brad Thiele is a bona-fide artist. While most SDSU art majors place a secondary emphasis on teaching or advertising, Thiele’s backup plan after graduating college is, well … being an artist.

In a state like South Dakota, many folks who are strongly ingrained with their ancestors’ blue-collar work ethics would call him a fool and a dreamer. But Thiele is a pioneer. He’s demonstrating what it means to be an aspiring artist living in the Midwest.

Currently in his junior year pursuing a major in Fine Arts, Thiele was recently awarded the honor of having a painting, Endless Horizons, displayed in the 2004 South Dakota Governor’s First Biannual Art Exhibition. Fellow SDSU art student Crystal Boetel also was awarded a spot in the exhibit with her sculptural piece called Paradox.

Thiele’s winning piece is an oil painting on canvas called, Quick, get the crown molding! The painting’s content and title stem from his strong family roots in his hometown of Sibley, Iowa.

“The painting is actually of me and my brother Ryan,” Theile says. “When we were younger, during the summer we played outside a lot, throwing things around like footballs and Frisbees. Whenever something got stuck on the roof, one of us would yell ‘Quick, get the crown molding!'”

Thiele and his 18-year-old brother Ryan learned the terminology for such construction materials as crown molding from watching the carpenter John Abram on his shows The New Yankee Workshop and This Old House. Crown molding refers to long wood boards mounted along the edge of ceilings for decorative purposes. Thiele is fond of his winning painting. It represents shared memories between himself and his brother.

Currently enrolled in four studio art classes, a move which most academic advisors do not advise, Thiele is overwhelmingly busy with his spring semester. His enhanced workload is a result of adding a second emphasis to his fine arts major. Since he enrolled at SDSU in fall 2001, he’s pursued a degree specializing in painting and printmaking. Recently he added ceramics and sculpture.

Theile is employed through the university’s work-study program at the South Dakota Art Museum. He began the job in spring 2003 and presently works six hours a week setting up and taking down the featured art displays. Along with working in the gift shop and information desk, he’s assisted in the museum’s program Growth Through Art, a workshop designed to help handicapped people find their voice through creating and designing art pieces.

To pass any spare moments spent at home, Thiele enjoys listening to music and playing games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and Golden Eye 007 on his Nintendo 64. His taste in music covers a wide variety of genres from newer rock like System of a Down and Incubus to the classics like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

Thiele also lets his creative juices flow by making his own music.

“Ever since I was little I was always pounding sounds and rhythms out on things around the house,” Thiele says. “It wasn’t until the fifth grade that I was able to seriously pursue drumming and, when I finally did, I discovered it was something I really enjoyed doing.”

Part of Thiele’s decision to attend SDSU attributed to his passion for percussion. Along its impressive art department, SDSU’s Pride of the Dakotas also offered some enticing opportunities. Throughout his freshman and sophomore year, Thiele was active a member of the band’s drumline. As his art studio classes became top priority, making music was placed on the back burner but still remains a favorite hobby.

Because he realizes that making a living as an artist is not the most practical of occupations in South Dakota, Thiele foresees a future of traveling. When asked if he would ever move to a place like Chicago or New York in pursuit of career opportunity as an artist, Thiele says, “I wouldn’t mind living in a big city because growing up here has already created so much inspiration that I can draw on for future project ideas. That, along with all of the new people and experiences I will encounter from living in a bigger, busier city will guarantee plenty of ideas for years to come.”