BGSU art student Jeffrey Eden poses for a photo.
BGSU art history student Jeffrey Eden said his time at the University helped fulfill a lifelong dream of creating a career in the arts.

Class of 2023: Artist fulfills lifelong passion while obtaining BGSU degree and studying and working in Italy

Jeffrey Eden made a major life change to chase his dream of being a professional artist

When Jeffrey Eden ’21, '23 came to a career crossroads, he knew which way he should go.

Eden had spent more than a decade in food service and had grown weary of it, yet always harbored an interest in creating two-dimensional art, mostly drawing and painting. 

Eden began to seriously consider graduate school, and when Bowling Green State University, his top choice, accepted him into its program, Eden said his mind was made up to formally pursue his passion to the fullest.

“I thought that was the moment that would define my career, and if you’re not all about it, what are you doing?” Eden said. “I wanted to go all-in.”

Eden, who earned a Master of Fine Art in Two-Dimensional Studio Art from BGSU in 2021, is now a two-time graduate with a Master of Arts in Art History.

BGSU art student Jeffrey Eden poses for a photo.
Jeffrey Eden's art shows appreciation for the beauty of the natural world through his use of oils, ink and watercolors.

A native of Charlestown, Rhode Island, Eden saw new doors opened to him at BGSU, where he took his work international. 

Through the International Studies Institute, Eden was able to live and work in Florence, Italy, where some of his work permanently resides. While in Italy, Eden completed an approximately two-by-four-foot oil painting that he donated to the program, which now displays it.

The experience of showing art and having a painting displayed internationally is something that Eden said he could have never imagined before enrolling at BGSU, but it is now his lived reality.

“I would have never believed it could happen – never, in a million years,” he said. “I have a painting hanging up in an old Renaissance palace in Florence, and I still have not quite processed that.”

A landscape painting shows city lights in Florence, Italy, reflecting off the Arno River.
During his time at BGSU, art history student Jeffrey Eden studied in Florence, Italy, where a work of his now resides.

Eden, who successfully defended his thesis on the works of Chinese painter Fu Baoshi, focuses on appreciating the beauty of the natural world using his specialties of oils, ink and watercolors. His landscapes, he said, take a moment to appreciate nature without trying to guide a viewer as to how they might feel.

“I think my landscape painting tries to take a moment to indulge in our natural surroundings and beauty,” Eden said. “I’ve always wanted my work to resonate with somebody in a way that makes them feel something, but I don’t want to guide them to how they’re supposed to respond.”

Dr. Andrew Hershberger, a professor of contemporary art history, said Eden remains one of the only people to graduate from the BGSU School of Art with both an MFA in studio art and an MA in art history – allowing him avenues in both areas of study.

"In my opinion, Jeff has positioned himself very well for a bright future in both fields," Hershberger said. "His studio art practice both inspired and inspires his research into art history, and his research in art history feeds back into his own works as a studio artist. Jeff has formalized that powerful, positive studio art-art history feedback loop in a way that really sets him apart."

After graduation, Eden said he is eager to continue teaching, an experience he loved during his time at BGSU, and plans to continue as a professional artist – a fulfillment of a lifelong desire to create art for a living. 

Reflecting on his major career shift, Eden says he looks back fondly at his growth as an artist by working with faculty at BGSU. 

“I was told early on that to make it in this field, you have to keep making stuff, so that’s what I did,” Eden said. “I was able to say goodbye to my old life and embrace a better one.

“It was a complete shift from my old life, and that’s exactly what I was after. I wanted to completely reinvent myself, and BGSU gave me the opportunity to do that.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 08/14/2023 02:57PM