Michael Hager is a well-known professor of art at Washburn University. He is known for his hand-on, engaging classes.
Hager currently teaches printmaking and design courses each semester, as well as being the exhibit preparer at the Mulvane Art Museum. He began his career as an adjunct professor at Washburn in 2001. Afterward, he was hired full-time as an art professor in 2007.
Hager’s favorite aspect of teaching art is the hands-on aspect. His favorite class to teach has been advanced printmaking because it focuses on relief printmaking. In this class the students take large 10-by-4 foot slabs of wood and steamroll them with a riding steam roller.
Hager’s artistic passions lie with printmaking and sculpture. Hager currently has an exhibit in NOTO in a place called NOTO Art space. He has a full wall dedicated to his prints. He also has another exhibit in NOTO, which will debut in November of this year. For the future, he is preparing something for the faculty exhibit that will occur in Spring 2019. Hager has a website where you can view his artworks. Visit www.michaelhagerprints.com to check out his work.
Hager was born in 1963 in Wichita, Kansas. After his father lost his job at Boeing as an airplane manufacturer, they moved to Topeka. Hager is the youngest of four kids and the only one to pursue a career in the visual arts.
In high school, Hager felt as if he was being pushed into technical drafting so after graduating he received an associates degree in the field of technical drafting at VO Tech, now known as Washburn Tech. He worked in this field for several years.
For years, Hager worked for an old book binding company in Topeka called Brackett. On the day that he was let go from the company, it was sold to another company.
“They terminated my position and I was unemployed,” Hager said “ That’s when I decided to go to Pittsburg State to pursue commercial printing.”
His time at Pittsburg wasn’t what he was expecting. He realized slowly that commercial printing is not what he wanted to do with his life. Commercial printing is about learning to operate printing presses and Hager craved something more artistic. After three semesters at Pittsburg, Hager transferred to Washburn University, where he received his bachelors of fine arts. His professors, who are now his current and former colleagues, encouraged him to go to graduate school, and he graduated from the University of Iowa with a masters in fine arts in 1999.
“I am defying the odds,” Hager said. “I became a professor at my alma mater, which doesn’t happen very often anymore.”
Hager has had a long journey to reach his dreams of becoming an artist. Art is a tough field to break into. Despite this, Hager believes that anyone can make a career in art.
“If you have tenacity and stick-to-itiveness, you can do it.” Hager said. “It’s a lot of hard work, and you won’t get rich from it, but if you have passion for art, it’s all worth it.”