Jess T. Dugan, Dallas lying on the bed, 2012, Pigment print, 20 x 24 in., Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Kayafas
August 15, 2015–January 3, 2016

Jess T. Dugan: Every breath we drew

For nearly a decade, artist Jess T. Dugan has been making photographic portraits that explore issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community from a highly individual and humanistic point of view. Every breath we drew, Dugan’s most recent project, explores the power of identity, desire, and connection through portraits of herself and others. Working within the framework of queer experience and from her actively constructed sense of masculinity, Dugan’s portraits examine the intersection between private, individual identity and the search for intimate connection with others. She photographs people in their homes, often in their bedrooms, using medium and large format cameras to create a deep, sustained engagement, resulting in intimate and detailed portraits.


Dugan combines formal portraits, images of couples, self-portraits, and photographs of her own romantic relationship to investigate broader themes of identity and connection while also speaking to private, individual experience. The photographs of men and masculine individuals act as a kind of mirror; they depict the type of gentle masculinity Dugan is attracted to, yet also the kind she wants 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. Through beautifully intimate and honest portraits, Every breath we drew engages larger questions about how identity is formed, desire is expressed, and intimate connection is sought. This exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated book with an essay by the curator and an interview with the artist conducted by internationally-renowned photographer Dawoud Bey.

Click here to view Jess T. Dugan's insights on her work in this exhibition. 

Jess T. Dugan, Betsy, 2013, Pigment print, 20 x 24 in., Museum purchase with funds from the Diversity Council of Rollins College
Jess T. Dugan, Devotion, 2012, Pigment print, Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Kayafas

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