Piecing Things Together With Jason Dussault
Jason Dussault and his favorite comic book superhero The Incredible Hulk have much more in common than you might think. Although he doesn’t morph into a large green humanoid when provoked, Dussault does possess a similar invulnerability when it comes to his take on modern mosaic techniques. His newest body of work, Off Duty, is a look into the lives of classic superheroes when they’re not playing the roles they’re known for. You might see your favorite characters barbecuing, playing volleyball, or engaging in any other activity one does when on vacation in the summer—all displayed on an array of vintage surfboards meticulously sculpted in Dussault’s signature mosaic style. A new piece will be exclusively revealed every Sunday from June 21st until July 12th during his summer residency at Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk. I sat down with the acclaimed artist and superhero virtuoso to discuss his latest project and what makes Montauk the perfect fit for it:
Imagine West Side Story except instead of the Jets versus the Sharks, it’s Marvel fans versus DC fans. Which side would you be on and why?
If I were to take the easy way out of that question, I would say it’s an impossible question. It’s like asking which lobster roll I like best, I love them all. As I never take the easy way out I will tell you that Marvel rules and DC drools. DC’s only cool characters are Batman, Superman and Daredevil. All have been bastardized by the movie studios, and admittedly the reboots have been better, but looking at the online pics of Jared Leto as the Joker in the upcoming DC flick, The Suicide Squad, their streak of better super hero movies will end in 2016. Now, Marvel. Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Spiderman, the Guardians, XMEN…I could say a lot more but the 7 titles I have mentioned are more than enough to make the point. With that said, I enjoy DC characters and Independent Titles as much as I enjoy Marvel, I just think Marvel does it best.
Which comic book superhero did you hold in highest regard growing up? Is he/she still a prominent inspiration to you now?
THE INCREDIBLE HULK. I connect with his explosive power and unstoppable nature.
What made you gravitate towards this 4,000-year-old medium? Do wish to redefine the primitive art of the mosaic, and if so, how?
I believe my mosaics have a unique quality to them, it’s my goal to create an original process and build on that. I haven’t seen mosaic pieces created as mine are. I think the biggest difference in my works is the subject matter, the grouting process I have developed, and the abstract way I break and recreate my ceramics. The depth of color you can achieve in tile is unmatched in my humble opinion. To my eye, everything just looks better in tiles.
How has comic book art been a source of inspiration for you and why did you decide to translate it into mosaic form?
Comic book art brings me back to a time of wonder and excitement about the unknown. It’s such a great feeling bringing your idols to life in your own unique form. When people think mosaic, they don’t think superheroes. I believe the best art derives from a juxtaposition. Two different concepts that when brought together are perfect.
How do you think your residency at Ruschmeyer’s will influence your style and work? What are you hoping to get out of it and what are you hoping it gets out of you?
I am pumped to be working at Ruschmeyer’s. I am looking forward to teaching, interacting and working with the staff and guests. Mosaics can be very social; imagine a jigsaw puzzle. As I will have the guides already painted on the boards when I arrive, I imagine working in the magic garden enjoying the sun and the tunes sharing stories over a beer while laying broken tile with whoever wants to help. As an artist it’s important to share your work in settings that complement it. I can’t imagine a better location to showcase “Off Duty.”
It seems to me as though you’re trying to capture the temporal quality of youth through heroes we worshipped growing up. Would you agree? How do you want your work to be perceived?
You got it. What’s great about Off Duty is that it makes you smile…and it will make your kids smile too. It’s rare to find art nowadays that elicits positive emotion and is family appropriate while still maintaining that edgy cool-factor. A lot of artists try to impress with dark messaging or high- brow abstractions. I would rather focus on smiles. A lego superhero playing in the sun, captured in mosaic on a surf board makes me smile and I am hoping people who come Ruschmeyer’s take a selfie with the characters and share their smiles.
If you could have any super power, what would you want yours to be?
The creepy answer is invisibility. Which, if we are honest, all men would choose. So, since I am honest, it’s invisibility. How many times have you said ” if I could only be a fly on that wall”? Knowledge and access are the strongest powers in this world and invisibility would deliver you both.
Why do you think we should stay connected with the fictional characters we fell in love with as kids?
Because it’s one of the ways we can escape being grown up. You have to pay bills, taxes, etc. You have to floss and brush your teeth and go to the dentist and get a job. But you never have to give up comic books.
At times, the public will have the opportunity to participate in your surfboard-based installations this summer. What kind of experience can we expect to get from that?
As I said earlier, for the four weeks that I am there, guests and visitors can join me in the Magic Garden to learn my craft and collaborate with me if they’d like. I truly believe everyone has an artist inside them, and I love puling them out, if only for an hour.
What makes Montauk the perfect fit for Off Duty?
Montauk has a bohemian, laid-back surfer, east coast vibe that is so unique and so special, it’s perfect for Off Duty. It’s one of the great summer escapes for hard working New Yorkers. A place where they can switch off. So, what better location for Super Girl, Wolverine and Cat Woman to take some time off from their crime fighting duties?!
Guest Written by Greg Mania.