Ruth Dusseault is a cross-disciplinary media artist who works in photography, film and installation. Her work falls at the intersection of geography and social psychology, reflecting utopian expressions as they enter the built environment. She has curated exhibitions that merge art and architecture for the District of Columbia Art Center, the Contemporary in Atlanta and the Avery Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art. She designs special topics courses that merge visual thinking, art, science and design for Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology. She has received over a dozen awards and recognitions from institutions including New York’s Artadia Foundation, the Forward Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Center for Land Use Interpretation. Her work is exhibited and collected internationally and has been shown at London’s Chelsea College of Art, Boston Center for the Arts, High Museum of Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, Houston Center for Photography, Bemis Center for the Arts and Emory University.
That was quite some time ago. I taught part-time for a few years before getting hired fulltime as Assistant Professor and Artist in Residence at Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture. For eleven years I taught photography and installation art to students majoring in architecture and industrial design. It wasn’t a tenure track, though, so they cut art when they downsized the program after the recession. Thanks to that unusual teaching experience, I was picked up by the Film program at Georgia State University and now I’m teaching in their School of Art & Design. It’s been very difficult but I have found ways to keep up with curating, exhibiting and publishing. I had previously gotten my Bachelors in Psychology, and even attended the Masters program for Journalism at the University of Florida. I believe my unusual career track has strengthened me as a teacher, and the feedback agrees. I have always been able to adapt my critical thinking to various concepts and help students work through their ideas.
I was taught about critical thinking from a professor, Steve Kurtz, which is something that has grown important through the years. My non-traditional photography professors, George Blakely and Robert Fichter, taught me about experimentation. These two skills go hand in hand, and having the understanding of both has shaped my career.
I read in the Chronicle for Higher Education that the number one reason students go to residential universities is for new experiences and exchanges. So I would say never say no to a new experience, as long as you’re not breaking the law! Another thing to keep in mind is learning how to use equipment and software while you have the access. After you graduate, you will continue to teach yourself. Learn how to be an autodidact. There will always be more to learn once you’ve graduated.