Department: Fine Arts School: College of Arts and Sciences Campus: Manhattan
Member of NYIT Since: 2007
From NYIT's Weekly Update:
"Multimedia Vita" Bayou Bennett is living her dream. She’s a globetrotter with a constellation of creative outlets. In addition to being an award-winning filmmaker, graphic designer, dancer, actress, and avant-garde performance artist, she teaches her craft to students endeavoring to make their own indelible impressions in the art world. After earning her M.F.A.—which included a summer of study in Rome—the Arkansas native moved to New York City to pursue her passions and hone her versatile talents. Bayou has exhibited her digital images and multimedia work in her hometown, London, and Mexico City, and has debuted her films at festivals in Los Angeles, Hot Springs, and Houston. She joined NYIT in 2007 as an adjunct assistant professor at the Amman campus, and today teaches cinema, computer graphics, and Web design at the Manhattan campus. Her latest accomplishment—10 years in the making—is an intensely personal film about her father, a legendary musician. Bayou, who says she is “driven by a purpose to inspire hope and change in our turbulent world,” is helping her students shine in their own right.
Tell us about Me, My Father and the Hurricane. It’s an autobiographical documentary about my relationship with my father, the pioneering musician 'Washboard' Leo Thomas, inventor of the Electronic Washboard (the New York Times called him the “Jimi Hendrix of the Washboard”). It tells the story of how I helped him heal from the loss of his father and best friend, a painful divorce, and the devastation of his native homeland of Mandeville, La., by Hurricane Katrina. The documentary was the Official Selection of the prestigious Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival 2009. Check out the trailer.
What are some of your upcoming projects? As a producer at New York City-based Dolce Films, I am working on Around the Block, an original television series about traveling to "another country" or "exotic foreign world" without ever hopping on a plane—a truly unique take on a travel show. I am also going for an artist residency at 3-Legged Dog, a non-profit theater and media group focused on large-scale experimental artwork, and am on board to direct a feature-length film titled Bazooka Universe.
At NYIT, what are some of the real-world experiences you've shared with students? In summer 2008, I selected a group of my best students to illustrate a book I wrote that encourages children to care for the environment (a companion piece to my documentary). I directed and oversaw the process of the visual concept and development, which taught my students color theory composition and heightened their drawing skills. The book was featured at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Also last year, several students served as production assistants and created animations for a film I co-wrote and directed titled Text Me, which was nominated as a finalist at Indie Producer 2009 and as the Official Selection of the Los Angeles Comedy and Houston Comedy Film Festivals. This past summer, I brought students on location to assist on a nationally aired anti-drug PSA I produced and directed. These real-world experiences help build confidence and look great on the students’ resumés!
If you could own one piece of art, what would it be? When I visited the Musée du Louvre in Paris, I fell in love with the sculpture "Nike of Samothrace." The movement and grace of this piece is timeless.
5. Who are your five “fantasy” dinner party guests? Degas, Keith Haring, Audrey Hepburn, Madonna, and Tori Amos. I would pick these artists’ brains to see how each achieved greatness.
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