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Meet Douglas Breault in South Shore

Today we’d like to introduce you to Douglas Breault.

Douglas, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in a suburban Rhode Island town called Slatersville, wedged between two sisters as the middle child. I was, and still am, relatively shy and introverted. As a child my imagination was always brewing up a story or scenario, but I rarely worked up the courage to share it with others. I think I still fall under the category of a daydreamer. I made the decision that I wanted to become an artist when I was 19 years old after my father passed away, which at the same time I was also finishing my first photography class at Bridgewater State University. These two events happening in tandem really shifted my focus into allowing myself to spend time being creative and expressive. I began to really consider my own identity in relationship to my father, and generated a lot of self-portraiture during my formative years as an artist. I think even now much of my work connects back to my father, but now much more fragmented and less blatant to the viewer.

After finishing my BA in Photography from Bridgewater State I relocated to Providence, RI where I began my studio practice at AS220. Providence began to influence and inform my development in the studio in new ways. I began to consider painting more seriously, and I began inhabiting the bench front of the huge Cy Twombly painting at the RISD Museum almost religiously every week. After a few years in Providence I relocated my studio to Mission Hill, Boston during my studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, where I received my MFA in 2017. Now I have returned full circle and currently am a Visiting Lecturer at Bridgewater State University where I am teaching courses in Digital Design and Photography. It is exciting being in the classroom with students during their formative years with exploring art.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Overall I feel I have been very lucky with being in the right place at the right time in some ways. The main struggle I have faced as an artist is what all artists’ experience- often crippling self-doubt. All artists naturally seek validation to make all of their efforts and investments feel worthwhile, but you have to learn from the rejections as well. A struggle every artist deals with is how competitive and involved being an artist can be, and the best advice I ever received was from Susan Rothenberg, where she told me the key is learning how to flip that self-doubt into your motivational force. Being an artist is financially draining and requires a lot of self-conjured energy. There’s always the exhaustive aspect of networking and maintaining your website and emails that is boring and challenging. Since it is nearly impossible to support yourself exclusively an artist, you learn how to juggle odd jobs, maintain a social life, and get creative with a limited income.

I think the most important characteristic for success is building a network of artists and colleagues who support and challenge each other. Artists are inherently competitive and narcissistic, but it’s essential to find others you connect with and can cheer on when they reach accomplishments. I find it stimulates your own ideas when talking to others about art. That is why I enjoy teaching so much, because there is a certain buzz in the room when students are focused on something they are working on. Students are very proud when they have a new discovery in their own process and ideas. Many students create artwork that is deeply personal, and I am hopeful to be able to create a space where that is supported and understood. It is okay to make mistakes, it is okay to make bad art, and it is okay to celebrate a success.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Artist – what should we know?
My initial focus in photography has expanded to include painting, sculpture, installation, and video. I tend to overlap and mangle mediums, creating hybrid artworks in which the physicality of mundane materials becomes both strategic and improvisational. I hate following rules, I think it is stifling for me to work that way. I don’t feel comfortable working specifically with one medium. Materiality is essential to the process: enlisting banal materials, obliterated images found online, and deconstructed objects creating bizarre interactions. My studio is an absolute disaster, which I think supports the way through ideas. I have a much more processed based studio practice- I rarely sketch, but rather I have notebooks full of disjointed thoughts and notes that I am always referring back to. I reference art history in my work a lot, specifically the traditions of painting and sculpture, so I also have on hand many art history books that I flip through while working. Notions of architecture and objects create interactions of object and image, time and space.   I tend to focus less on the rules of the processes but the potentials of those materials, and acting a bit fearless when it comes to mucking up some materials to break into a new idea. I like to create my own fictions.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My friends and family have always been incredibly supportive of the work I do, especially my mother who is my absolute biggest cheerleader. I have had the opportunity to learn from and work with many talented artists, both in school and socially. Some of the most important mentors I have had are Santiago Cucullu, Kendall Reiss, Megan McMillan, & Mary Dondero- all of which are New England based artists.

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