Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community. Dugan holds an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago, a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.Dugan’s work has been exhibited internationally.
Dugan’s photographs have been featured in the New York Times, CNN, The Advocate, Slate, The Huffington Post, and the Boston Globe. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, and may others.
Dugan’s first monograph Every breath we drew was published in 2015 by Daylight Books and coincided with a solo exhibition at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Dugan is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, an Artist Fellowship from the Regional Arts Commission in St. Louis, and was selected by the White House as a 2015 Champion of Change.
About ‘‘Pictures with my mother’:
I had chest reconstruction surgery on January 5, 2005 at the age of 18. Two weeks later, the first time I could physically handle my 4 x 5 view camera, I made a picture of my mother and I standing topless next to each other.
In this photo, the bruises on my skin are still visible and surgical strips hold together the incision that would become my scars. My mother stands next to me, exposing not only her own body but also her unwavering support of me and mine.
In 2010, I once again asked my mother to stand next to me, to re-create the original image, but this time in color.
She agreed, and since then, we have been photographing ourselves together in the same pose every year. I am interested in how our bodies have changed and will continue to change, year after year.
We are both aging; my hair is graying; I have added, and sometimes removed, tattoos and piercings. We plan to continue making these photographs together every year, for as long as we can. In addition to these annual photographs, I continue to make individual portraits of my mother, documenting our relationship over time and engaging with larger ideas surrounding family and identity.