Jim Riegel Retires from the Kirk Newman Art School

KIA Grateful for his 26 years of dedication and service

Posted: April 19, 2011

Jim Riegel

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Kirk Newman Art School bids a fond farewell to Jim Riegel. For the past 26 years, Jim Riegel has served as the Chair person of the Photography Department. He has taught classes in Photoshop, Digital Photography, Introduction to Photography, Studio Lighting and more.

Prior to joining the Kirk Newman Art School in 1984, Jim was a freelance photographer and a working artist. Even though Jim never received a degree in art, his life experience in photography gave him a unique edge that made him the ideal fit.

In the late sixties, Jim attended the Kendall School of Design in Grand Rapids, majoring in Fine Art/Illustration. During his second year, he took up photography as a hobby, and because Kendall did not have any photography classes at that time, Riegel set up a darkroom in an empty closet and learned how to develop and print his images. It was at this time that Jim learned he would rather photograph an object than draw it, and thus began his craft as a photographer.

Jim started in black & white photography, primarily focusing on offbeat and quirky subjects and humorous nudes. He later switched to the digital medium, first scanning and digitizing his film then shooting directly to digital. By applying filters and effects, Jim is able to evoke a painterly and textured effect on his images that has become an identifying feature of his work. Jim's "ah-hah" moment as an artist came in the summer of 1969 when he and his friends came upon an abandoned barn surrounded by wheat fields. The light was perfect and he captured five or six images that are still stand-outs to this day, including one called Granary Cats.

Jim's favorite part of working at the Kirk Newman Art School is meeting so many new people and experiencing his students' interpretations through their own art. Jim has been an integral part of the Kirk Newman Art School and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and he will be greatly missed. Jim's art may be viewed at www.jimriegelphoto.com.