Photographer Spotlight – Jess T. Dugan

Tell us about yourself…

I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, came of age in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and currently live in St. Louis, Missouri with my partner Vanessa, our daughter Elinor, and our cat Leopold. I have always been interested in photography, but I wasn’t exposed to it in a formal way until I was in high school. It has been a love affair ever since. I have an MFA and a BFA in photography and currently work as a self-employed artist.

Your work explores issues of identity. Can you share with us what that means to you?

Sure! My creative practice centers around an exploration of identity – particularly gender and sexuality – through photographic portraiture. Drawing from my experience as a queer, non-binary person, my work is motivated by an existential need to understand and express myself and to connect with others. When I was coming out as a young queer person, I didn’t see myself represented in the broader culture. I first discovered images of queer and gender-expansive people in fine art photography books, and this discovery was profoundly influential to me. One of my primary aims as an artist is to create, exhibit, and publish photographs depicting queer experiences to fill society’s gap in representations of these lived experiences and embodiments.

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