Faculty portfolios

  • Every Breath We Drew, Betsy, 2013.
    Every Breath We Drew, Betsy, 2013.
  • Every Breath We Drew, Alix at sunset, 2017.
    Every Breath We Drew, Alix at sunset, 2017.
  • Every Breath We Drew, Jess, 2018.
    Every Breath We Drew, Jess, 2018.
  • Every Breath We Drew, Jamie and Ann, 2016.
    Every Breath We Drew, Jamie and Ann, 2016.
  • Every Breath We Drew, Collin (red room), 2020.
    Every Breath We Drew, Collin (red room), 2020.
  • Every Breath We Drew, Zach and Oskar at sunset (grass), 2020.
    Every Breath We Drew, Zach and Oskar at sunset (grass), 2020.

Jess T. Dugan

2020-21 Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Teaching Fellow

Campus Box 1031
Biography 

Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of identity through photographic portraiture. They received their MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago (2014), their Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University (2010), and their BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (2007).

Dugan’s work has been widely exhibited and is in the permanent collections of over 35 museums, including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery; the International Center of Photography; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the Saint Louis Art Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Photography; and the Library of Congress.

Dugan’s monographs include To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults (Kehrer Verlag, 2018) and Every Breath We Drew (Daylight Books, 2015). They are the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and an ICP Infinity Award, and were selected by the Obama White House as an LGBT Artist Champion of Change.

Dugan teaches workshops at venues including the Anderson Ranch Arts Center (Snowmass Village, CO), the Fine Arts Work Center (Provincetown, MA), and Filter Photo (Chicago). In 2015, they founded the Strange Fire Artist Collective to highlight work made by women, people of color, and LGBTQ artists. They are represented by the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago.

Every Breath We Drew (2011-present)

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. Rather than attempting to describe a specific identity or group—the gender identity and sexual orientation of the individuals varies—Every Breath We Drew asks larger questions about how identity is formed, desire is expressed, and intimate connection is sought.

To Survive on This Shore

Representations of older transgender people are nearly absent from our culture and those that do exist are often one-dimensional. For over five years, photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabbre traveled throughout the United States creating To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults. Seeking subjects whose lived experiences exist within the complex intersections of gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class, and geographic location, they traveled from coast to coast, to big cities and small towns, documenting the life stories of this important but largely underrepresented group of older adults. The featured individuals have a wide variety of life narratives spanning the last ninety years, offering an important historical record of transgender experience and activism in the United States.

The resulting photographs and interviews provide a nuanced view into the struggles and joys of growing older as a transgender person and offer a poignant reflection on what it means to live authentically despite seemingly insurmountable odds.