Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Former gallery director retires

Emmy Hardy
Ray-mel Cornelius

Ray-Mel Cornelius, Visual Communications instructor, has retired from Dallas College Brookhaven Campus. May 10th marked his last class. “I’ve been at this for a long time,” he said. “Somebody said that I was an icon, a legend around this school, and I said, ‘Well, that’s what they call you when you’ve been here too long.’” 

As his time as a Visual Communications instructor came to a close, Cornelius reflected on his life and career as an artist.


Growing up in Royse City, Texas, Cornelius’ access to art classes was limited. The city’s sky feels abnormally big due to no large buildings blocking its view. “We had a 360 [view of the] horizon,” he said. “Trees, barns and houses dotted around it.” As the horizon turned dark blue, a 14-year-old Cornelius attended night art classes his mother enrolled him in. Cornelius said, “I was in there with older women. I was kind of their little mascot.”

In high school, Cornelius continued to experience limitations due to living in a small city. “We had an art class,” he said, emphasizing the word ‘an,’ “and it was taught by a [sports] coach.” Soon enough, Cornelius would attend Texas A&M University-Commerce, where he would receive a Bachelor of Science in Commercial Art. The idea of moving to a big city began to intrigue him. “I did have enough of [the small city],” he said. “There weren’t any opportunities there, and I had to move.”

Cornelius experimented with living in major cities such as Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas, where he worked for several publications, including Texas Monthly and Southwest Art Magazine, as an illustrator.

In 1987, Cornelius was hired as an adjunct professor of illustration at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus and continued as a faculty member of the Visual Communications department and as Atrium Gallery Director for the next couple of decades. “It was a learning experience for everybody involved, and it worked out okay,” he said. “They kept bringing me back.” He has also participated in more than 50 solo and group art exhibitions, all while teaching at Brookhaven.


Patience Parks-Young, illustrator and graphic designer, is a former student of Cornelius. She said, “The Portfolio Development course was probably the most important class I took in college – Ray-Mel helped prepare students for the ‘real world’ and make the transition from student to professional.”

Seven years after she graduated from Dallas College, Parks-Young still recalled the supportive classroom environment Cornelius created for his students. “While his criticism was always kind, he remained very realistic and would tell it to you straight if your work was not up to par,” she said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get empty praise from him.”

As Cornelius sat on one of the many chairs in a classroom where he taught hundreds of his students, he reflected on how he felt as his time at Brookhaven as an instructor came to an end. He said: “If I was able to help anybody achieve some sort of goal, I’m glad I can do that. For a small community college, we have had a pretty good department where people went out and got jobs. I’m so proud of the program, and I hope I was able to guide [students] with my own experience.” Cornelius’ influence on students will persist as he continues expressing himself through his paintings which will be displayed in future exhibitions.

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