He sold plastics for a Taiwanese company, worked as a perfumer at West Windsor-based Firmenich, and taught at Peddie and Princeton Friends School, but for the last twenty-seven years, Dave Bush has been a colorful presence on The Hun School campus as a faculty member of the visual arts department.
Mr. Bush is a beloved presence, well-known for his wry sense of humor and his bold creativity. He is also the very definition of a Renaissance man. Dave Bush competed in the 1972 Olympics as a diver, built almost all of the furniture in his apartment by hand, and helped start a Bard writing circle for Hun faculty. An avid traveler who has been to all fifty states, he was among the first to organize a global immersion program for his AP studio art students.
When Dave Bush retires this June, he won’t simply box up a classroom—he will be moving off campus, too. He has been a resident of Russell Hall for fifteen years, raising three children as part of the Hun community. “Living on campus is something I vowed to never do,” he jokes. He may have never planned for it, but the experience has been a happy surprise. “I got to spend time with my kids in an interesting place.” Now, as his youngest daughter is set to graduate from Princeton High School this June, Mr. Bush quips, “It’s finally time for me to graduate too.”
Though a teacher, Mr. Bush prefers to listen, rather than lecture. “I’ve always been a good listener,” he says. “I don’t seek out students but I have formed many close relationships with them.” Former students keep in touch with him regularly. Recently, an alumnus from the class of 2017 texted Mr. Bush from a museum. He credits technology for allowing such interactions, but it’s his rapport with students that endures.
For Dave Bush, art has always been a vehicle for learning about other things. “We’re told to keep pushing and you’ll get the reward, but that’s not all there is in the world. There’s so much more to life, and that’s what I bring.”
While he thinks “the best learning takes place when there is an interest,” he also wholeheartedly believes that everyone can benefit from an education in the arts. “What is great about art at Hun is that we value it here and understand its importance; the requirement is not a token offering,” he explains.
Mr. Bush is himself a talented artist. While he studied painting as an undergraduate and sculpture as a graduate student, he now spends his free time molding clay in the ceramics studio. “Painting and sculpture take up a lot of room. I like making things, and ceramics lets you start and stop.”
Patient and preternaturally relaxed, Mr. Bush isn’t making any retirement plans. “You can make guesses at what your future will be, but I don’t know.” His days will likely be filled with plenty of “making things,” as well as cooking and gardening, but he credits a conversation with former colleague, English department faculty member Jim Kerr for his guiding principle. “Jim talked about retirement as living the life of the mind. I like that.”
The one plan he does have? A two-week trip this October, where he’ll join his entomologist cousin on a journey of exploration through Brazil’s Pantanal region.