In this post we recognize John Huddleston, Fletcher Professor of Studio Art for his 25 years of service to Middlebury. John’s humor shines through as he shares some of his favorite memories of Middlebury in addition to his take on why hobbies are over-rated. Read on to learn more about John’s creative work, how he came to Middlebury, as well as his story of a poignant life lesson that led to renewal.
What did you do prior to work at Middlebury College and where were you located?
Well, after I was paroled…Not! I lived in NYC and San Francisco, working primarily in construction – as a roofer, a carpenter, and a consultant. Much of my consulting work was done on swing stage scaffolds, which hang off the skyscrapers. The views of the city were beautiful (good for my photography) and I always felt a lot safer 50 stories up than down on the streets.
Take us back to your first year as an employee at the College. What were the most significant things happening in your life outside of work then?
My first child was born in my first semester of teaching here. A very intense and wonderful experience that threw off my lesson plans for a few days. My daughter would enter the college as a student seventeen years later.
What are the most significant things happening in your life outside of work now (that you’d like to share)?
I find that meditation practice is becoming important in establishing a creative base for art-making and life. I just launched a website for my artwork: johnhuddlestonphoto.com. My wife says I should say I have a very rewarding marriage.
Have your interests/hobbies/athletic endeavors changed over the past 25 years? Have any of these been influenced by your work at the College or due to your association with others who work here?
Much of my photographic art is cross-disciplinary so colleagues in Spanish, Physics, History and the Environmental Sciences have been very helpful.
I’ve actually tried to eliminate hobbies as I realize how short life is. My sixth grade beer coaster collection now lays stagnant. Maybe I’ll get back to it in retirement.
The moments of real communication about meaningful subjects are most important to me. The imaginative energy on display at the student art shows in Johnson is very fulfilling.
Many people change jobs/careers multiple times in their working life. Something must have kept you here for 25 years. Is it anything that you can put into words?
The college and Vermont have been good for my family and work.
What are your plans for the next 25 years?
I have several more photography books I would like to have published. And I have a long-term project to die gracefully.
Do you have a favorite place on campus?
Cross-country skiing through the forest at Bread Loaf is right at the top for me.
If you have relocated from a warm climate, find activities to get outside in the winter!
And remember there is a big world outside of the college and Middlebury.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about your time at Middlebury?
While I was preparing for a trip to Mexico, having dreams of Aztec priests cutting out my heart, I was struck down by a heart attack, and shortly thereafter, underwent a triple bypass. As I was wheeled in for the open-heart surgery, strapped to my mobile altar, I looked for obsidian knives in the hands of the masked men. But the glaring light was not the sun over Tenochtitlan and I was not thrown down the temple stairs after the bloodletting. Instead, resurrection, pain, and a long chest scar, fractal-like, a branched connection to the limbs of the forest and to the contours of the constellations, thrust forward, worn like a medal, a purple heart. Evidence of a sacrifice to renew the world, my world, and to assert our shared suffering and joy.