The ArtsRiot Gallery
Jean Luc Dushime: A Sense Of Place
Jean Luc Dushime’s A Sense Of Place is an exploration of our place in our surrounding environment, how we define the environment we live in and vice versa. The project begins in the gallery but continues through Dushime’s Tumblr - a live and ever growing collection of thoughts, images and reflections of his return to Rwanda.
Jean Luc Dushime was born in Kigali, Rwanda. He lived, for all intensive purposes, a quiet life until the outbreak of the Rwandan Genocide on April 7, 1994. From there on, Dushime became a refugee. For two and a half years, Dushime and his family remained in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, when the first Congo War erupted in the fall of 1996, they were forced to flee to the capital of the Republic of Congo, Brazzaville. They lived there for almost eight years, until 2004, when Dushime and his family were relocated to Vermont through the U.S. State Department’s refugee resettlement program.
In Vermont, Dushime found the opportunity to create a new life. Here, he attended Champlain College and graduated with a degree in Public Relations in 2010. He is a youth counselor and mentor at the King Street Center, and lives in Charlotte. However drastically Dushime’s life may have changed, his desire to share the refugee story has not.
“A Sense of Place” collects portraits of refugees working in the Intervale in a stunning collection filled with light and emotion. While many refugee photographers focus on the darkness surrounding this dramatic cultural transition, Dushime attempts to restore a sense of peace and pride in his photographs. Each subject feels intimately connected to the landscape, whether viewed through the blurred green lace of corn stalks or bending toward the earth with a scythe, gathering what appear to be grains.
The exhibit started out as a part of a larger project curated by BCA called “Of Land and Local. In Dushime’s own words, the exhibit “explore[s] the relationship between farmers and the land they live on and from”. This exploration is not limited solely to his subjects, but to his own relationship with the space he has come to inhabit. The exhibit provides a glimpse into a story of growth and renewal, a story with many voices represented through the singular lense of Jean Luc Dushime.
Matthew Douglas was born in 1979, in Burlington, Vermont, but grew up in Vergennes. It was there, as a child, that his passion for art began. He and his friends would sit around the dining room table drawing their favorite cartoons or comic book characters, that is, when they weren’t sneaking into R-rated movies or playing video games. Most of his school notebooks were filled with drawings of Ninja Turtles and Ducks, although fortunately his teachers were supportive as long as he maintained good grades.
After graduating from Rice High School, where he had less access to the arts, Douglas applied to Savannah College of Art and Design, or SCAD. At this incredible arts institution, Douglas was able to delve deeper into computer animation, a field that emerged in the early 20th century. There, he gained a strong artistic foundation and the confidence to pursue a career in animation. A year after graduation, Douglas was working as a production assistant in Savannah when he came into contact with the talented animator Don Bluth, director of “The Secret of Nimh” and “The Land Before Time”. Bluth, a classicist like Douglas, repeat some often quoted words of wisdom: “You are the only thing holding you back”. This advice encouraged Douglas to continue pursuing his art despite the enormous odds he faced in an industry over-saturated with talent that, in addition, often outsourced its animation overseas.
Bluth is one of the animators, who also include Chuck Jones and Glean Keane, who have influenced Douglas’s artistic vision. His artwork shares their lively, classical style. Douglas is also influenced by his close friends from college, who often provide criticism for his current projects, and he for theirs. It is partly this process of sharing ideas and critiques that helps him to continually grow as an artist.
When he’s not drawing or working his day job as Senior Web Designer at Dealer.com, Douglas spends time with his 14 month old son and his wife. And if he has a spare moment after all of that, you can find him in his basement, playing his custom made Green Mountain Drums kit.