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Meet Brett Dyer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brett Dyer.

Brett, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Dallas but grew up in East Texas in a small town named Hallsville. I was raised on a farm with no artists in my family. All throughout my childhood, I loved doing creative things, but I did not really know being an artist was a career option or that other artists were out there. I was in high school before I attended my first art gallery and art museum.

In high school, I fell in love with art, but I had convinced myself that I wanted to be a doctor, so I mostly focused on taking advanced math and science courses. However, I managed to take art all four years. As I began applying for colleges, I became discouraged by how expensive they were, and I did not know what I was going to do. I was also the first person in my family to go to college, and education was not the most important thing to my family.

Luckily, my high school art teacher Mec Lacewell encouraged me to apply for a scholarship at Kilgore College for art. I was shocked when I received a full two-year Presidential Merit Scholarship for Art! This was my ticket off of the farm. I loved those first two years of college, and I learned so much.

I had professors like John Hillier and O. Rufus Lovett who showed me how I could be an artist and a professor. Their passion was contagious, and I never thought about being a doctor again. I could not believe their job was to teach others about art, show others how to make art, and then go home and make their own art. I wanted to do just that, and I did.

I later received my Bachelor of Fine Arts Cum Laude from the University of Texas at Tyler, Texas, in painting and printmaking and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and intermedia arts from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas.

I have been employed at North Lake College since 2012 teaching Drawing 1 & 2, Painting 1 & 2, Design 1, Advanced Design, and Art Appreciation. I also serve as an advisor to the W.E.O.T.A. Student Art Club, President of the North Lake Faculty Association, and Treasurer of the Dallas Community College Faculty Association.

Prior to teaching at North Lake, I worked as an Adjunct Professor of Art at El Centro College in Dallas, Texas from 2006-2012 teaching Art History Survey 1 & 2, Design 1, Design 2, Advanced Design, and Art Appreciation. I also worked as an Adjunct Professor of Art and a Full-Time Temporary Art Professor at Tarrant County College Southeast Campus in Arlington, Texas.

There, I taught, Drawing 1 & 2, Painting 1 & 2, Introduction to Bookmaking, Art History Survey 1 & 2, and Art Appreciation from 2007-2011. I too worked at Collin College in Plano, Texas as an Adjunct Art Professor from 2010-2012 teaching Drawing 1 and Art Appreciation. I also taught private workshops in printmaking, encaustic, painting, and drawing at various DFW art centers such as the Dallas Arts Center, The Encaustic Center, Visual Arts Society of Texas, Trinity Arts Guild, and The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

I exhibit my personal artwork locally and nationally at galleries and museums throughout the year. I have also won awards for both my art and teaching. I won Faculty of the Year at North Lake College in both 2017 and 2014. I won the President’s Scholar Award at North Lake College 2015-2016, the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award in 2016, the John & Suanne Rouche Excellence Award in 2015, and the Excellence in Teaching for Adjunct Faculty Award 2011-2012 at El Centro College.

I maintain professional affiliations and attends functions for local and national organizations such as the Emergency Artists’ Support League, the Irving Arts Association, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Texas Community College Teachers Association, the Dallas Arboretum, and Botanical Gardens, and Art Connections.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I have worked since I was 15 years old. My first job was washing dishes at a pizza restaurant in Longview, Texas. I have worked full time ever since then and all throughout college. I have worked as a cook, waiter, bartender, salesman, retail management, personal shopper, and now as a college professor in addition to being an artist. All I know is hard work.

Growing up on a farm, there was always more hard work at home after work, so my life now seems much easier than all I have been through before. I have a twin brother and four half-siblings. We were raised in pretty unstable and broken homes. My family struggled financially and suffered from abuse and mental illness. Growing up with a mentally ill parent is challenging but never boring or predictable.

I have always been used to change and chaos even though it is hard. I like to think that art provided a path for me that literally saved my life. There were also things about me that my family did not understand or accept, and for a while this rejection and disownment is what motivated me to find control, stability, others like me, and to learn to love myself no matter what others thought or said.

I had to create my own path, and learn to be independent and a caregiver from a very young age. While I was in graduate school, my mother eventually tried to take her own life yet survived with severe injuries by some grace of God. It was a miracle and one of the hardest events that changed my family forever yet made us all stronger in other ways.

This forced me and my siblings to fight for our success and choose to live differently from what we had known. Most of my siblings continued on to college, have earned multiple degrees, and worked hard to find successful and fulfilling careers. One of my sisters also became a teacher. We have all moved on to build healthy and loving relationships and families of our own.

Being able to do this on our own made us appreciate life more, understand our students and coworkers, and know that we can get through anything.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
My recent work combines figures with evocative colors and patterns revealing the complexity of the human spirit. My work includes painting, drawing, printmaking, and mixed media. My work is exhibited in galleries, private collections, and museums throughout the United States. I will have a solo exhibition titled Deliverance: Rescued and Set Free at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts in Longview, Texas January 12-March 23, 2019.

What were you like growing up?
I have always been very shy and creative. Being born an identical twin but having completely different personalities, sexualities, and interests can make you scared that you will never fit in with anyone else. However, once I got to college, I began to find people that saw me for me, and I learned to feel more comfortable in my skin and with my soul. Now, I never shut up.

My student probably would not believe how shy I used to be because my passion makes me go on and on and on about art, artists, and life. I try to inspire my students to be themselves and live without fear or insecurity. I hope they can learn to be their number one fan and their own advocates, but they also got me.

I choose to work at a community college because I want to help those students like me who did not have the easiest paved roads, and I want to show them that their success is in their hands, and they have the power within if they want to see change and opportunity come into their lives.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Rhonda Brunson, & North Lake College staff photographers

Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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