|Some of Durand's art that is hanging in the CEU Gallery East.|
After 40 years and a career that spanned many careers and moves, Jackie Bunnell, aka Jackie Durand; returned to her alma mater on an Oct. 5 evening to not only showcase her art work in College of Eastern Utah's Gallery East, but tell her story of going after her dreams.
With humorous antidotes about her life and a chocked-up silence when referencing her family, Bunnell kept the crowd mesmerized for almost 45 minutes.
She paid homage to retired Professor Neil Warren, who "in 1965 saw potential in a small town girl from Emery County High. For two long years, he nurtured and coached that young girl within an inch of both of our lives in the art of theatre and forensics. He was my first mentor."
Under Warren's tutelage, she had so much success that it enabled her to continue her education at the University of Utah where she earned her bachelor's of fine arts degree two years later.
While at the U of U she married and after graduation, the couple set off to Cambridge, Mass., so she could "pursue theatre and her husband could obtain his doctorate degree."
Both her personal and professional life did not work out as planned for Bunnell as she asked herself "what happens to a creative personality who can no longer do what they were trained for, something they felt they were born to do."
She needed work and found odd jobs, one as a cleaning lady at a high-end interior design center. While there, she met the head designer, the late Wayne Collins, who schooled her in the art of interior design. He was her second mentor.
Becoming the advertising director, she refocused her direction in the arts, which took an incredible amount of work on her part, with "many, many long hours of study at home and the library."
While at the firm, she published a three-page article on design for People magazine. "When asked what name was to accompany the article, hmmm," she said. "Born a Nielson, raised by an Oveson, named changed to Bunnell in marriage . . . to hell with it. I chose Durand, my mother's maiden name."
She said she never got around to getting her name legally changed. "I jokingly told people that I kept it for my rap sheet . . . arrests may be lurking in my future, chock it up to rebellion and laziness. Durand is for my work."
She left Cambridge and returned to Salt Lake where she worked as a designer for Dinwoodeys. Then her next move took her to the San Francisco Bay area to work for Liberty House's display department.
Managed by Ron Pennington, the two created three-dimensional art all day, "our canvas was 75-square feet." He became one of her dearest friends and her third mentor, she said.
Her next stop was a promotion to Joskey's Southwest stores in Phoenix, Ariz. as a regional visual merchandizing director. "I had a wonderful crew and the creative input and energy was nonstop." She talked about long hours while working there and that Christmas trim for a high-end department store takes four months to create.
"The happiest years of my life were working with display artists. They are the set designers of our lives. They are the trend setters, the ones who light the temple squares, bring color, pizzazz, daring do and bling to the ordinary," she said.
Her next move brought her back to Salt Lake to start her own business: Durand Inc. It included interior design, display, her art, hand painted fabrics and hand painted furniture for clients and the trade. The hand painted furniture lead to her first of four exhibits at the Phillips Art galleries in SLC and Park City.
To date, she has designed 48 interiors, residential and commercial, with her artwork in all of them. She has had 32 shows and representations of her art work in several states. Presently, she is represented by the Patrick Moore Gallery in SLC and San Diego, Calif.
Durand talked about people who cannot accept someone who has many skills as being an expert in any. "It's as if you are only supposed to do one thing well, find your niche and stay there. All other things you do well need to be classified as interests or hobbies. It's like an unspoken rule. I have noticed a distressing trend cementing into place the last decade. The niches are becoming more specialized, smaller, tighter; shutting out even the most common, everyday skills needed to aid us in life."
Durand's answer to the root of this problem is because "our self-confidence is being seriously eroded by a society that promotes fear. This in turn impedes productive and creative thinking. We are starting to fear even the possibility of trying something new."
She said her adult life has been doing one different project after another, thousands of them. While one may be "kinda-sorta-like another, they are a new experience each and every time.
"I have big issues with confidence and the lack thereof. Countless times in an artist's life, we have the block created by the fear that maybe this time I really can't do it," she said. "This internal fear, coupled with the fear bombarding me from the outside can be paralyzing. I start believing that I can't think; hoping that something, anything will come to me. Please tell me what to do."
Durand said the greatest gift in life is the mind and it does not take much to jump start it. "Feed it with a little wow and awe sometimes. Eat some food you've never tried. Build a kite and fly it with a friend. Engage in a real conversation (preferably with someone who has opposing views). Paint the bathroom and write a letter to someone you love."
She told the students to do their assignments. "Your instructors are not here to help you feel better about yourselves, they are here to help you do better."