The Corn Dog: The Way to Artistic Awareness

Kezia Miller

Lewis and Clark had the pleasure of hosting Bill Christman, an American Folk Artist, at the Visiting Artist Lecture Series. Christman is a Saint Louis artist, sculptor, sign painter, City Museum collaborator, and corn dog connoisseur. He creates art that “Makes fun of things…I reflect my values by being a wise ass,” Christman humorously shared.  

Beneath Christman’s wit, maledictions, and fascinations of the corn dog, lies a man of unique and unconventional inspiration. Fine Art Program Coordinator and Professor of Art, Chris Brennan comments, “Bill has a rather wry sense of humor that comes through in much of his art; his obsession with corndogs is a testament to that. He has a strong sense of nostalgia…and with that he often combines whimsy and even in some cases a playful kind of sarcasm. His work is at once entertaining and thought-provoking.”

Throughout his lecture, he presented his amusing and stimulating art, told stories of his past experiences, but most importantly illustrated what it means to be an artist. An artist must be stubborn, imaginative, and original.

Christman states, “Artists can be told by the society they live in that they are frivolous, stupid and irrelevant, but we are in an age where there is no telling what can be pulled off by people with imagination, something all artist should have in common, ideas and imagination.”

The endgame for an artist is to create what has never been done before, as it is time to start a new cycle of artists pertaining to goodwill, integrity, humor, and imagination.

Bill asked the audience to internally determine which artist has made the most impact on their lives, Christman disclosed his “Bob Dylan,” as he practices the values that Christman wanted to practice. He continued, “Our values as an artist are the essential component. The way we see the world, what we think is right, or what is wrong.”

A few more additional Christman tips suggested for fellow artists were to keep a notebook handy and write down anything that catches your fancy. Another was thinking about marrying somebody who has money, as it will pay off.  Christman also suggested thinking outside the box, because why shouldn’t we have a world where there is beautiful and interesting wacky stuff. Lastly, Christman advised others to be an inspiration. As Bob Dylan once said, “What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?”

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