Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of identity, gender, sexuality, and community. She holds a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Her work has been widely exhibited at venues including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the San Diego Museum of Art; the Aperture Foundation, New York; the Transformer Station, Cleveland; and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. Her first monograph, Every Breath We Drew, was published in 2015 by Daylight Books. The same year, she was the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and was selected by the White House as an LGBT artist Champion of Change. Her second book, To Survive on This Shore, was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2018. She is represented by the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, IL.
Every Breath We Drew
Every Breath We Drew (2011-present) explores the power of identity, desire, and connection through portraits of myself and others. Working within the framework of queer experience and from my actively constructed sense of masculinity, my portraits examine the intersection between private, individual identity and the search for intimate connection with others. I photograph people in their homes and personal spaces, using medium and large format cameras to create a deep, sustained engagement, resulting in an intimate and detailed portrait.
I combine portraits of individuals, couples, and self-portraits to investigate broader themes of identity and connection while also speaking to my personal experience. The photographs of men and masculine individuals act as a kind of mirror; they depict the type of gentle masculinity I am attracted to, and also the kind I want to embody. Similarly, the photographs of relationships speak to a drive to be seen, understood, and desired through the eyes of another person; a reflection of the self as the ultimate intimate connection.
Rather than attempting to describe a specific identity or group- the gender identity and sexual orientation of the individuals varies greatly- Every Breath We Drew asks larger questions about how identity is formed, desire is expressed, and intimate connection is sought.
To view more of Jess T. Dugan’s work please visit her website.