Remarkable story of artist Dusti Bongé begins, ends in Biloxi

Updated: Feb. 21, 2020 at 5:20 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A Biloxi native made a name for herself as a painter in New York, Chicago and around the country in the 20th century.

If you stop by the historic Creel Cottage in Biloxi and wander inside, you’ll find a treasure trove of stories dedicated to Biloxi native and artist Dusti Bongé.

“She was the first artist from Mississippi to do truly abstract work through her entire career. That was also something she did early in her career. You can imagine that is an incredible legacy she left behind,” said Ligia Romer with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation.

Bongé moved to Chicago and New York where she made a name for herself in abstract expressionist art circles.

She returned to Biloxi and rediscovered her roots doing pencil and charcoal drawings based on the city's seafood industry. That was also something she did early in her career.

“Even though there were all these beautiful mansions along the Coast, she, when she was doing cityscapes, she would go to Back Bay and draw shrimp boats and the factories. These were iconic parts of Biloxi because Biloxi was the seafood center of the world,” Romer said.

Many of her paintings of seafood factories were done in a modernist style.

Her work has been exhibited all over the country. It was featured at the Odgen Museum in New Orleans last year, and this fall will be on exhibit at The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.

A beautiful book titled Dusti Bongé Art and Life was just published, which goes a long way toward telling her story.

“It tells her whole life story, including her life in Biloxi and in New York and everywhere else. It really presents her story to the world,” said Romer said.

Dusti Bongé died in 1993 at the age of 90. More and more art lovers are learning about her remarkable body of work.

The Dusti Bongé Art Foundation is located at 370 Meaut Street, behind the Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi.

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