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Dillon Bryant


Bold Points




I am a first generation higher education LGBT+ student pursuing an MFA in Photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I am currently working from Vermillion, South Dakota where I received my BFA in Photography from the University of South Dakota. My research explores constructions of home and desire in relation to the LGBT+ experience through collage, photomontage, and other alternative photographic processes. After graduation, I am interested in teaching at a college level so I can give back to other first generation students and encourage them to be their best selves. I will strive to keep building my exhibition record and to have solo exhibitions at galleries and museum in the United States and abroad. I have participated in juried exhibitions and shows across the United States, Spain, and at the Czong Institute of Contemporary Art Museum in South Korea.


School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Master's degree program
2021 - 2023
  • Majors:
    • Film/Video and Photographic Arts
    • Fine and Studio Arts

University of South Dakota

Bachelor's degree program
2015 - 2020
  • Majors:
    • Fine and Studio Arts
  • Minors:
    • History

University of South Dakota

Master's degree program
- 2021
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Test scores:

    • 28


    • Dream career field:

      Higher Education

    • Dream career goals:



      • Fine and Studio Arts

        University of South Dakota — Head
        2019 – 2020


      • Conceptual Art

      Future Interests




      Susy Ruiz Superhero Scholarship
      I am a first generation higher education student from the Upper Midwest and I have constantly struggled with imposter syndrome and feelings of inadequacy. I transferred to the University of South Dakota in 2015 from Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont to be closer to my family and to pursue a Photography degree. During my time in the Art Department at USD, I had the life changing opportunity to learn from and work with Professor John Banasiak, whom I am grateful to call my mentor. John Banasiak is a first generation higher education student from a family of Polish immigrants who grew up on Chicago’s south side. Growing up, one of his teachers recognized his talents, passions, and potential to be an artist and nominated him for consideration for a scholarship to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He won this award and was able to pursue his passion for photography and earned both his undergraduate and terminal degrees there. Ever since, he has touched the lives of thousands of students throughout the world, teaching and working throughout the United States and overseas. John Banasiak has served as an educator, colleague, and friend to the University of South Dakota for over 40 years and was recently awarded the South Dakota Governor’s Award in the Arts for Outstanding Service in Arts Education due to his lifetime of achievement and service. His classroom is incredibly warm and inviting. His teaching philosophy strives to create a learning environment where students are comfortable to pursue their own artistic interests and cultivate their passions. He is always around to offer advice and feedback on a project over a warm cup of tea. We have had many critiques over the soft sounds of the blues and jazz music playing from the studio stereo. Throughout my academic journey here at the University of South Dakota, I am always comforted when I am walking through the halls of the Art Department and I hear the lilting coos emanating from the Photo Studio. I will be attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for my terminal degree in Photography this fall and I am ecstatic to be following in the footsteps of my mentor. This past year I have been shadowing and helping him out in the classroom observing how he conducts his classes. Everyday I have conversed with him, I feel more confident that I am going in the right direction with my future goals. When I grow up, I want to be like John and carry forward his warmth to my own students when I teach someday. John believed in me when I was struggling with my education and I could not have gotten to where I am now without his support.
      Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
      I was formally diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety during my Junior year of my undergraduate education, but I have struggled with my mental health ever since I was young. One manifestation of this was when I was in elementary school- I would constantly touch and play with my hair to the point where it was falling out in patches and clumps. I was in 2nd grade. I was constantly anxious and afraid to be noticed or call attention to myself for fear that something terrible would happen. As a young LGBT+ in the rural Midwest struggling with my mental health and the effects of bullying, I constantly diminished myself and led a stilted life. However, this outlook began to change when I was first enrolled in higher education. I am the first person in my family to graduate from college and the first to pursue a graduate degree. I was highly involved during my undergraduate tenure, holding numerous leadership positions throughout the University of South Dakota, serving as the Fine Arts Senator on the Student Government Association and the President of the Student Art Alliance where I constantly advocated for mental health concerns. My mental health experience changes day by day. The fears and anxiety are still there, whispering in the back of my mind and weighing in my stomach like a lead ball, but I have learned to get in touch with myself and think critically about what is catalyzing these feelings. I will attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this fall for an MFA. My research will explore constructions of home and desire in relation to the LGBT+ experience, of which mental health and trauma intimately influence. Despite the struggles I have faced, I am determined to not reduce myself and be a role model for other LGBT+ individuals and those struggling with their mental health.