Seattle artist Michael J. Schultheis to deliver WSU Bhatia Lecture March 9 on Analytical Expressionism

PULLMAN, Wash.—Seattle artist Michael J. Schultheis returns to his alma mater, Washington State University, to deliver the twelfth V.N. Bhatia Lecture on Monday, March 9.

His presentation, titled “Analytical Expressionism: In the Dreams of Pythagoras,” will be at 7:00 p.m. in the Compton Union Building (CUB) Auditorium. The public is invited to this free event, which is hosted by the WSU Honors College.

The artist describes creating his paintings with layers of equations and drawings that describe mathematical concepts. He “explores what happens in the human mind at the intimate and profound moment when analytical ideas render and how we draw them in perpetuity,” Schultheis said. Likening his canvas to a chalkboard, he said he paints what he sees on the “internal chalkboard of his mind.

“This is Analytical Expressionism.”

V.N. Bhatia Lecture

“It is very fitting that Mr. Schultheis delivers the next Bhatia Lecture, a series named for V.N. Bhatia, the visionary head of the WSU Honors program for 40 years,” said M. Grant Norton, dean of the Honors College. “The named lecture was created to bring speakers to campus to discuss compelling subjects and share great ideas. Past lectures have been delivered by a U.S. ambassador, academicians, politicians, a poet, authors, and heads of organizations. Mr. Schultheis is the first artist featured as a Bhatia speaker.”

The most recent Bhatia Lecture was presented Oct. 28, 2014 by Jon McCourt, community peace activist and former member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Colton, Wash. native and WSU Honors alumnus

Schultheis grew up on a cattle ranch near Colton, Wash., a scant six miles south of Pullman. He studied history and Italian in 1989 at the Scuola Per Stranieri in Siena, Italy. His full scholarship to WSU allowed him to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics and an Honors certificate in 1990. He went on to earn a master’s degree in labor economics at Cornell University, where, he said, he created still life paintings to counter student stress. He worked as a mathematician, economist, and software developer before becoming a full-time artist, joining “his knowledge of math and his passion for paintings.”

According to a story published in “art. ltd.” magazine, his paintings begin as mathematical notations on a blank white canvas. Using a paint rag, he partially obscures his notes. “His canvasses are the result of multiple layers that include the theories of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, such as Galileo and Leonardo da Vinci. To these, Schultheis adds abstract concepts of his own, including geometric forms that have been re-visualized in the mind of the artist…ultimately (his) paintings are mathematics with a human face.”

Pythagoras was a Greek mathematician and philosopher who settled in southern Italy. His students lived a structured life of study and exercise, avoided meat and beans, and aspired to cosmic orderliness.

“These paintings are not landscapes, but mindscapes,” Schultheis wrote. “Through Analytical Expressionism, (I) invite the viewer to think about the world in a different way and appreciate the interconnectedness of everything within the experience of life.

Influences and Exhibitions

An article posted on reports that “Schultheis is inspired by the work of Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, and others who use geometric circles, numbers, collage, and chalkboard painting, but his take on painting is uniquely his own.”

The artist has exhibited at the National Academies, the Rotunda Gallery at the National Academy of Sciences, Fairbanks Gallery, Oregon State University, and The United States Embassies in Greece and Switzerland.  He is included in international public and private collections including the National Academy of Sciences, The Mathematical Association of America, City of Seattle, City of Portland, and Tacoma Art Museum.  He has lectured at Wentworth Institute of Technology, Seattle University, George Washington University, and the National Academies.

Schultheis’s 2014 “Dreams of Pythagoras” collection was most recently on exhibition at the Winston Wächter Fine Art gallery in North Seattle. For more on the artist, visit the website at

MEDIA:  M. Grant Norton, Dean of the Honors College at Washington State University,, 509-335-4505
Peggy Perkins, WSU Honors College Administrative Manager, 509-335-4505,