We recently connected with Brett Dyer and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Brett, thanks for joining us today. We’d love to hear about when you first realized that you wanted to pursue a creative path professionally.
My first semester at Kilgore College, I had an amazing art professor named John Hillier. His passion for art was contagious. I remember one day, he invited our class to visit his home and studio near campus. His home was filled with art and books. As he showed us his studio with multiple larger-than-life wood sculptures in progress, I saw his eyes glowing with pure joy as he explained his process and the content of his work. I approached him after class and asked him, “So you talk about art all day, teach people how to make art, and then you go home and make your own art, and that’s your job?” He said, “Yes, and you can do it too if you get your bachelors and masters in art.” As a first-generation college student without much experience and art knowledge, he further sparked my interest and passion and provided me with hope, skills, curiosity, and a career path that totally changed my life. I’m lucky to call him a friend and mentor still to this day.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I was born in Dallas and relocated to East Texas when I was still in elementary school where I was raised. After high school, I attended Kilgore College for two years under a full scholarship for art.
I received a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in painting and printmaking from The University of Texas at Tyler, and a Masters of Fine Arts degree in painting and intermedia arts from Texas Woman’s University in Denton.
I currently live in Denton and work as an Art Professor and Faculty Fellow at North Lake Campus of Dallas College. I also teach private workshops at various art centers and museums, and have previously taught at El Centro College, Tarrant County College, and Collin College. I have won multiple awards for teaching and for my art. Recently, I was named the 2019 District Faculty of the Year at Dallas College and was selected to paint large murals in both Deep Ellum and Irving. I continue to create in various media, and I vow to never stop.
As I create, I turn my hands over to my heart and mind. I reflect what I see, hear, and feel. I exhibit others and myself through visual therapy to help myself understand and process daily life. I do this because it is what my body and mind compel me to do.
My work has developed over the years from representations of images and emotions towards a more heartfelt style of expression. Painting gives me the freedom to put my emotions and action into my work. This places me present within the work. If you do not present yourself to the world, you deny the world of yourself. Your thoughts and responses of the times might just be what others need to see to cheer them up, make them think, feel, or all of the above.
Experiences in life are my work. I hope that my creations communicate a more universal, yet individual sense of empathy and a bigger picture sense of what is life; life for all of us.
My life and work are one. They would not exist without each other.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative in your experience?
The most rewarding part of being an artist is being vulnerable and sharing my work with others hoping it brings as much joy and/or hope to someone’s life as it did for me as I created it. I’ve had some really powerful moments receiving feedback from viewers in comment books and at receptions that taught me the true power and multiple purposes of art and how it connects lives and can be therapeutic for both the artist and viewer.
As an art professor, the most rewarding aspect is experiencing my students discover their true potential and place in the arts. I love to see students succeed and continue to create and exhibit their work after they graduate. They make me really proud.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
When I was in graduate school, I almost lost my mother to suicide. While she survived, it was not without significant damage to her physical and mental health. This incident had such a traumatic impact on me and my siblings. I remember considering dropping out of school because it was very hard to keep it together being a full-time student with a full-time job. Any day I had off, I would spend with my younger siblings to take them to visit our mother in the hospital as she slowly recovered from her injuries. Thankfully I discovered free counseling at TWU where I was able to get help with my own mental health and stay on track to graduate. Although those were very difficult times, they taught me to never give up, to take things step-by-step, to continue to work hard, and to never stop making art. This resilience and grit helped me greatly in my career as becoming a successful artist and full-time professor can take several years of exhibiting and teaching to develop the experience needed to be considered for solo exhibits and full-time faculty positions.
- Website: https://www.
- Instagram: @brettleedyer
- Facebook: https://www.
- Linkedin: https://www.
- Twitter: @brettdyer10
The first headshot image of me in front of my mural was taken by photographer Jessica Estrada.