Unleashing ‘Art Soldiers’
FSCJ’s Dustin Harewood embraces roles as a mentor to young artists and purveyor of contemporary art on the Westside
Dustin Harewood says he didn’t plan to be a teacher, but he feels it was “destined.”
As chair of the art department at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Kent Campus, Harewood is an accomplished visual artist in his own right and an active proponent of bringing contemporary art practices to Jacksonville’s Westside.
After graduating from high school in Barbados, where his family is from, Harewood earned a Bachelor of Arts from North Carolina Central University and a Master of Fine Arts in painting and drawing from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
“I met a couple of kids from Jacksonville Beach in graduate school at UNC Greensboro. They were a year ahead of me. They hooked me up with an adjunct job at FSCJ soon after I graduated,” said the 34-year-old Harewood. “I’ve been here since 2004.”
Over the past decade, Harewood has shown his paintings and drawings everywhere from The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens to Jacksonville International Airport and Jane Gray Gallery to the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, as well as several galleries in Barbados and North Carolina.
Folio Weekly: Tell me about your role as chair of the Kent Campus Art Department.
Dustin Harewood: I worked with Anne Banas, who had been teaching at the school for 20 years. When she retired last summer, I took the keys to the car.
F.W.: And you’ve been working on bringing contemporary artists to Kent Campus.
D.H.: For the past few years, we have been inviting many exciting local contemporary artists to come and show at the Kent Gallery. Recently, we have shown Madeleine Peck Wagner, Kurt Polke, tattoo legend Mike Wilson, Daryl Bunn, Patrick Miko, Crystal Floyd, Thony Aiuppy and Eric Gillyard, to name a few. Our campus is positioned right smack in the middle of Riverside/Avondale and the Westside, where many of our students come from. We made it a point recently to showcase these great local artists to our student population. We also asked quite a few of these artists to come back after the show to meet and speak with our art kids. It’s been a fun ride so far. We are already excited to show top-notch local artists like Hiromi Moneyhun and Troy Eittreim in our gallery this fall.
F.W.: You recently participated in “The All Americans” show at CoRK Arts District. How did that go?
D.H.: “The All Americans” show was a huge success. The show opening was crazy. Our DJs “Fathom Atom” [a local hip-hop collective] had the place jumping. I also made some good money, so I can’t complain. The show was the brainchild of Overstreet Ducasse. He thought that our work would have made for a nice collaboration, and I think that he was right. I think he’s an artist who should be taken very seriously.
F.W.: Give me a little preview of your plans for the mural you’ll be painting in Barbados.
D.H.: I’m still working on ideas, so nothing is concrete as of yet. For a show I did at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus in the summer of 2011, I made a fake mounted “Black Belly Sheep” head. Black belly sheep are one of our unique local animals. My piece was titled “Black Berry Sheep,” complete with a Blackberry phone clamped in its jaws. The piece dealt with issues of cultural penetration and the effects of American/European popular culture’s strong influence on our small island. There was one point when it seemed like everyone on the island had a Blackberry. Now, I bet most of them have been traded in for iPhones. I’m sure that a follow-up image will stir up a small bit of controversy. I know that my first piece made a few people over there feel a bit uncomfortable.
F.W.: You’ve been teaching at FSCJ since 2004. Tell me why education is so important to you.
D.H.: You know, I never set out to be a teacher. It kind of just happened. But now it feels like something that I was destined to do. It’s like I’m in tune with my dharma. Jacksonville has continued to grow culturally over the years. I feel like I’m constantly training little art soldiers who I’m continuously releasing out into the public. I think that all of the art educators in [Jacksonville] are doing their job, because events like Art Walk are way bigger now than they were five years ago.
F.W.: You were recently nominated for an “Excellence in Teaching Award.” That’s exciting!
D.H.: I think that this particular teaching award is an FSCJ thing. Have not read the small print though. We have five main campuses with a lot of employees, so being nominated is an honor. Whether I actually win or not remains to be seen, but I’m just happy to know that my peers are aware of and have acknowledged the hard work that I’ve been putting in.