Friday, June 14, 2013

The Interview With Dustin Garnet

On April 21st, 2013, I received this email ...

Hello Alice,
My name is Dustin Garnet and I am an instructor in the Central Tech art program. I am also a PhD candidate writing my thesis on the history of the CTS art program.
I just came across your comments and pictures on the Internet about your experience at Tech. I was thrilled!!!  (He is referring to this post.) 
Would you be interested in having a phone or a Skype interview about your experience?
I've already interviewed a bunch of former staff and students and I think your story would be a great contribution!
Please let me know whenever you can.

I checked Dustin Garnet out online and promptly replied with a hearty "Yes"! The phone or Skype interview morphed into a live, in our own home interviewOn the heels of a conference in Victoria, B.C., Dustin flew to Calgary, rented a car on June 8th, 2013, and drove the 130kms to Claresholm.

The video taped part of our day lasted a little over one hour

The moment he came through our front door I was endeared to him. Our first hour, becoming acquainted, was animated and forthright. He'd emailed me questions to ponder. Those of you who know me would know that I'd have questions of my own, and often among the first is "How old are you?" "Thirty-three" he responded. His obvious passion for Central Tech (where he's been on staff for six years) and easy manner made it easy for me to be my usual, unreserved self. Please view Dustin's art here. 

My vanity had me ask to see how I looked on camera

In lovely weather, we enjoyed lunch on our back deck, after which I took Dustin down to The Anne Frank Room. There he photographed my memorabilia and student art until it was time for him to dash back to 
Calgary for a 5 o'clock flight.

I happily watched as Dustin delighted in photographing everything from book covers of school projects, photos, to my diploma and report cards. He marveled at the fact that we were actually ranked according to our overall, average mark; i.e. 3 in a class of 15.

My final report card ... notice how heavily weighted art subjects were compared to the academic subjects
This fine letter, to the graduates, accompanied our diploma
And there I am, diploma in hand, November 18th, 1966

Dustin asked about
student interaction. I was so honoured when he said that he could give a dissertation on me and my classmates. He wondered about how our teachers instructed. I felt (because art is so visual) that they had taught by doing and then left us to work it out. What they gave us was a desire to be like them. We could see that, as artists, they enjoyed a wonderful life both in and out of the classroom. I wanted that.

Design class, Dawson Kennedy, January 1966
My photo from the VULCAN, Central Tech's 1966 year book

When the four-year course was over I was not yet weaned from Central Tech and neither were other students from my graduating class. Some of us returned for night classes in life drawing. As well, I took sculpture which was not offered in the high school art program. 

Dustin wanted to know about work placement after school. To my recollection it was arranged behind the scenes. Sent off to be a cartographer, I lasted a week.  Good thing employment was easy to come by back then. Upon quitting I was hired, on the basis of my portfolio, at a division of Irwin Toy; Irwin Specialties. There, using a non-rotary x-acto knife, I hand-cut pro-film for silk screens (of my designs) to be printed as souvenirs. Pennants, t-shirts and tea towels. It was all very unglamourous (although it set me up for fine art, silk screen printing in later years) but it was a great deal more interesting than map making!   

How wonderful that Dustin came so far to spend a day with me! He gave me a tremendous opportunity to remember my school days, of some 50 years ago, with someone new. Someone who feels every bit as strongly about the institution as I do. I look forward to his transcript of our interview and to his final thesis presentation.  

Not to mention the book and the movie! 


  1. Dustin certainly chose well, to include your interview in his thesis! Sounds like a kindred spirit for sure. I look forward to seeing your interview, be sure to notify us when it's on the box Alice! Till then I will be thrilled to have the opportunity to know you in real life! :)

    1. Thank you Shannon, you're one dynamite supporter of me - and of the arts in general!

  2. What a fabulous post, Alice, and I was delighted to see your photos, report card and memorabilia, as I'm sure was Dustin. His transcript of the interview will undoubtedly be a fabulous read and I'm so hoping the video will be made available to you as well.

    His remark about doing a dissertation on you and your classmates was obviously heartfelt, and I'm sure it would be a wonderful one, if completed. The richness of the artwork that has come out of that school era will be glorifying the world art scene for eons.

  3. Many thanks Win.
    I not only cherish the time I spent learning to be an artist I also hold so dear my day with Dustin who knows how to weave my experience into the bigger, as yet untold, story of the remarkable art education at Central Tech.

  4. Very interesting to read about the life of an artist. Thanks for the look back in time.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read, Eileen. This is just a small snippet of a full, rich life!