Emeritus Studio Art Professor Michael Jung ’58, whose life and career as a student and as an artist was closely tied to Denison and Granville, died September 7, 2022, at age 86.
A Sheboygan, Wisconsin, native, Jung took the advice of his older brother Henry, who was a student at Miami University, and applied to Denison. The night before meeting with the director of admissions, he drove to Granville and slept in his car parked next to the football practice field. A campus security guard agreed to wake him up the next morning in time for his interview.
At Denison, Jung was a Cora Whitcomb Shepardson Scholar and received a Clara Hudson King Memorial Award. During his first year, he met his future wife, Marilyn Berger ’58. The story goes that Jung spotted Marilyn on campus and called her on the phone asking for a date. Marilyn responded, “I don’t know you,” and he replied, “I’ll be right down.”
Following Jung’s three years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy touring the Pacific, he and Marilyn were married, and by 1962 they had a daughter, Robin, and twin sons, Timothy and Stephen. Jung earned two master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, took a teaching position at Western Kentucky University, and was then offered a position at Denison in 1967 as an artist-in-residence, which eventually became a full professorship for nearly 35 years.
Eric Hirshler, emeritus art history professor and longtime colleague, wrote in a faculty assessment that Jung “lives his profession every minute. There hardly was a time when I did not see him drawing or doing watercolor or keeping his mind and hand busy with assemblage. He is the most dedicated artist and teacher with whom I have been in contact and I believe the key person in the studio arts at Denison.” Former student Gail Lutsch wrote that Jung “was always a kind and patient teacher who never intimidated the uncertain or struggling art student but rather encouraged artistic production with constructive criticism and a sense of humor.”
Ron Abram, current professor of studio art, recalls the respect of students and peers for Jung’s work and teaching, and how he donned a lab coat before painting — a habit some of his students also developed. He was a man of few words, often delivered with dry wit.
“He had such a grace about him,” Abram said. “Sometimes it’s the flashy characters who get all the attention, but students gravitated to Michael because of his ability, his humor, and his sweet nature.” Jung traveled widely, visiting 58 countries during his life, and the imagery of his travel experiences often informed his painting. He kept a studio on River Road in Granville that he worked in daily after his retirement in 2001, filling it with paintings, drawings, prints, constructions, and objects that inspired him.
Jung is survived by his wife, three children, and five grandchildren.