Dary Dega: Sharing his art, praying for peace | Brazil 360
Dary Dega, originally from Russia, found a home in Bryan with her husband and three children after immigrating to the United States in November 2013.
The 45-year-old opened her own art gallery – Degallery, which is now on Rosemary Drive in Bryan – in March 2016. Her love of art dates back to her childhood in a small town near Moscow. She attended music school and aspired to be an artist, but her family directed her to medical school instead. She said she earned three master’s degrees and her doctorate when she was 24.
Dega met her husband, Grigory Rogachev, after his father worked with him in physics studies. Rogachev came to Bryan before Dega and now heads the physics and astronomy department at Texas A&M University.
“It was difficult for both of us because we both had top positions,” Dega said of the staggered move. “He was a teacher and I was in charge of health and none of us wanted to interrupt his career. I didn’t want him to interrupt his career because he was a father and a husband.
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Dega did not know English when he arrived in Bryan and learned through Rosetta Stone software and children’s books. She said she couldn’t work in the medical field because her Russian education wasn’t accepted here. This brought her back to art, through painting and teaching at the gallery.
The studio offers exhibitions and art classes for children and adults. She also started her own non-profit organization, Dega International Art Association, to help children study art and obtain scholarships.
Russia has changed dramatically since 2013, Dega said, especially after invading Ukraine in February. That and the COVID-19 pandemic have meant not seeing his family for nearly five years.
“Right now, it’s difficult even to communicate across [social media],” she said. “We have no more communication and we don’t know if we can meet anymore.”
Dega said she was afraid to go to work the day after the Russian invasion, but was greeted with kindness and understanding by her students. She said it’s hard to keep a positive attitude, but she continues to teach art and promote peace in her classes.
“After that awful day, I went to work and a few of my American friends and students who attend my classes sent me cookies, flowers and notes,” she said. “We all sat together and cried together, and all of my students are very supportive of me. Every morning and every evening, I pray for peace in the world; so that people understand each other, support each other. We are all brothers, sisters. It doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat, Republican, Aggie, not an Aggie. It doesn’t matter your sex, your color. No matter. I just pray everyday for peace.
What differences do you see between the Russia of today and that of your childhood?
Russia today, even 10 years ago and 40 years ago, there is a huge difference. When I was born, it was a bad time for Russia. We had a lot of deficit, the economy was done because I was born during the time of the Soviet Union. And after they changed and split into different countries – and in the Republic they started to become Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and 15 different countries – it was so huge and big and such a bad time . After Perestroika [political and economic reforms], the country began to grow in 2003-2005 in business and size. Everything changed and it became clear that many large and small cities in Russia were the best cities for a tourist visit. … Between 2000 and 2013, everything was wonderful. We had good salaries, good economic conditions. … But right now, that’s exactly the problem, because everything is getting bogged down for everyone: no travel, no shipping, no messages, no communication and everyone is so scared. There’s a constant up and down, up and down [with Russia]. Maybe right now it’s down, and maybe one day we’ll go back up.
If you weren’t an art teacher, what would you do?
Even when I was in medical school — even now that I’m doing art — the important thing was to help people. When I was a doctor in the medical industry, it was important to help people and make sure they weren’t sick and help them feel better. Even after I opened the gallery, I started a non-profit organization to help kids, artists, feel more comfortable growing up and help people sell their art and support scholarships. studies for children. It doesn’t matter if I do art or work in the medical field; I just want to help people.
Do you plan to go back to school?
A few days ago, I applied for a Master of Arts program after being invited to the program by Northwestern State University in Louisiana, and I was accepted. It will be a more distant education, but I will travel and meet my teachers and do art in the studio. I’m so happy to be a student in the United States because all of my education is international. I’m happy to be a student again. I will take courses in ceramics, sculpture and so many other courses. I plan to use what I learn to increase business here and teach all kinds of courses. I love it and I’m very excited.
What’s been your favorite part of Texas?
I once told my husband that maybe in my previous life I was born in Texas. There are a lot of things I love about Texas and I feel like home here. I like horses, guns, and I like my cowboy boots, my poncho. I love so many things. The people here are very nice; everyone kisses, and it’s not like the North. I’m also an American citizen, and my husband always reminds me that I need to feel like an American from Texas, and I already feel like an American from Texas.