Article by The Forum.
By: Ryan Johnson, INFORUM

Minnesota State University Moorhead senior arts student Brittany Cossette had the image she is holding accepted into an international juried show that recently opened in Vermont. Darren Gibbins / The Forum

MOORHEAD – Brittany Cossette knew the perfect subject for a portrait assignment in one of her photography classes at Minnesota State University Moorhead last fall.

She just didn’t realize at the time that the assignment would get her into an international juried gallery show – or lead to her current relationship with Brian DeMars, the subject of the portrait and a co-worker at Johnny Carino’s restaurant that she got to know better during the 45-minute photo session.

Cossette’s portrait, “Something I Need,” was among the 60 selected out of more than 800 submissions for the recent “Faces” juried show at the Darkroom Gallery in Essex Junction, Vt.

The 23-year-old native of Barnesville, Minn., took a “roundabout” path to finding photography that started with her high school hopes of pursuing a career in fashion design.

As she neared high school graduation in 2009, Cossette said she wasn’t ready to move to Los Angeles or New York to try to find a break in the competitive industry. Instead, she enrolled at North Dakota State University, taking a year of general courses with the idea that she could start fashion design classes there.

But by the time she finished her generals a year later, she decided to focus on photography and transferred to MSUM.

“I realized that photography would be a really good way to kind of be in the world of fashion but not have to be a designer,” she said.

Now a senior majoring in studio art with an emphasis on photography, Cossette said she may stay at MSUM for one more year after graduating in May to earn a certificate in printmaking.

How did you decide to submit “Something I Need”?

I’m always looking online for juried shows or different shows that I can get my work out there and into a gallery just to be seen. The title of this show is “Faces” and it’s all about portraiture, and I have all kinds of portraits.

I was going through my photos to see if I had any in my computer that I could use, and I really liked that one because of the strong light. So, I found the show first, and then decided to enter the photo.

What made you choose the subject of the photo?

The reason that I chose him for that particular photo is because he has a scar on his face, and I knew that the lighting I used in that photo was kind of an aggressive, more hard-edged look. I thought the scar would match well with that type of lighting.

I’m guessing he liked how the photo turned out?

Yes, he did. He made me print one for his mom.

Are you still interested in fashion design?

I am. I watch “Project Runway” religiously, and it’s something I want to learn once I’m done with school. I know it’s kind of silly to think that I’ll have a lot more time, but I’d like to try to learn how to sew if I ever get free time.

I think it would probably just be a hobby. I am so passionate about art that I don’t think I could leave that behind.

What’s next for you?

I think I want to go to grad school, whether I stay for the certificate or not, just because that opens up the opportunity to teach.

I’d never really wanted to teach before, but I’ve seen such great teachers here that it just makes me think that it would be so much fun. I’m so passionate about it that I feel like I could share it with others.

So, grad school to teach possibly. If not, I would like to do artist residencies and travel and take photos that way.

Where I would want to live, it’s hard to say. I’m very close with my family, so it’s hard to say that I would want to leave here. But I feel like you have the best shot of making it in art not here, and pretty much anywhere else.

But the world is becoming so small with technology. I found this show in Vermont and I just had to ship my photo there, so it’s starting to seem more realistic that I could stay around here.