Every breath we drew
Every breath we drew 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, often in their bedrooms, using medium and large format cameras to create a deep, sustained engagement, resulting in an intimate and detailed portrait.
I combine formal portraits, images of couples, self-portraits, and photographs of my own romantic relationship to investigate broader themes of identity and connection while also speaking to my private, individual 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, yet 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 a another person; a reflection of the self as the ultimate intimate connection.
By asking others to be vulnerable with me through the act of being photographed, I am laying claim to what I find beautiful and powerful while asking larger questions about how identity is formed, desire is expressed, and intimate connection is sought.
Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community. She earned 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.
Jess’s work has been exhibited at the San Diego Museum of Art, the Griffin Museum of Photography, Gallery Kayafas (Boston, MA), Carroll and Sons Gallery (Boston, MA), the Schneider Gallery (Chicago, IL), Michael Mazzeo Gallery (New York, NY), JDC Fine Art (San Diego, CA), the Jennifer Schwartz Gallery (Atlanta, GA), the Leslie/Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, the RayKo Photo Center, the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, and at many colleges and universities nationwide.
Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Harvard Art Museum, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, the DePaul Art Museum, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Her work is also included in the Midwest Photographer’s Project at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, IL.
In the fall of 2015, Every breath we drew will open as a solo museum exhibition at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fl and will coincide with the release of Dugan’s first monograph, published by Daylight Books.
Within the museum field, Jess has worked as a collections specialist at the Harvard Art Museum, as a museum photographer at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and as a curatorial assistant and educator at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, IL.
Jess is represented by the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, IL and Gallery Kayafas in Boston, MA.