Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Two openings next week!

I am excited to be a part of two shows that open next week.  Please join me at one or both if you can!

Flourish: Alumni Works on Paper

Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Paine and Bakalar Galleries
June 6-July 9, 2011
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 9, 6-8 p.m.

Flourish: Alumni Works on Paper is the first juried alumni exhibition to be held in the Bakalar and Paine Galleries at MassArt.  Showcasing the breadth of talent and excellence embodied by MassArt’s artists and designers, this exhibition features the work of 64 international artists working in a range of disciplines—from sculpture to graphic and fashion design to photography.

I will have the following two works from A Place so as to Stay on display.  This show has an impressive lineup of artists and I'm honored to be a part of it.

Dad with his shotgun, Little Rock, AR, 2009

Amiee in her piercing shop, Provincetown, MA, 2010

That's so Gay: 2011 Boston Pride Exhibition at Bunker Hill Community College

Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery
June 6-August 5, 2011
Opening Reception: Tuesday, June 7, 6-8 p.m.

That's so Gay is a group exhibition of Boston area GLBT artists whose work in various media explores GLBT themes, identity, and politics.  
I will have 9 images from Transcendence on display.

Self-portrait with mom, 2005 

Friday, May 20, 2011

MassArt Commencement Remarks

Graduates processing in

Me giving my remarks (photo courtesy of Hunter O'Hanian)

I was honored to give the "Charge to new alumni" at MassArt's commencement today.  It was about all I could do to hold back my tears throughout the entire ceremony.  I have such love for MassArt and am so proud to be an alum.

Here are my brief remarks:

Welcome, class of 2011.  Congratulations on making it to this day after 4, 5, or 6 years at MassArt.  It has undoubtedly not been easy, but you have learned skills here that you will use for the rest of your creative careers.  I remember my own graduation day, feeling incredibly proud of what I had accomplished and also nervous and uncertain about what would come next. 

As you all know, choosing to be an artist is an act of faith, an unwavering belief in yourself and your voice.  You wouldn’t be here today if you didn’t feel like you had something to say, a way to contribute creatively to the world around you.

Over the past few years, your creative vision has been nurtured.  You have been surrounded by a group of peers and faculty who have pushed you right up to the edge of your limits and then, quite often, beyond them, allowing you to prove to yourself and others what you are capable of.  Though I knew what an amazing place MassArt was while I was a student, it wasn’t until I began working as an artist that I truly realized what a solid foundation I received and how critical that foundation would be to my career and my work.

There are a few things I wish someone had told me.

The first is that it’s not going to be easy, but it is certainly going to be worth it.  As artists, we get to create our own rules and forge our own paths.  As heroic as this sounds, it is also challenging and means that at every point in our lives we have to evaluate what we want, who we want to be in the world, and how to get there.  At times it will seem insurmountable, but if you made it through four years at MassArt, you know that you can do anything you set your mind to, no matter how outside of the box or seemingly impossible it may be.

Second, you don’t have to go it alone.  Though you are ending your time as a student, you are now part of a wonderful group of MassArt alumni, a network that is extensive and welcoming.  If there is something you want to know, there will always be an alum that you can ask.  MassArt alums are in every field of work, all across the country and the world.  I got my first job after graduating through a fellow alum, and several years later, when I was in a position to hire, I hired from MassArt.  MassArt pride and loyalty runs deep.  Take advantage of it.  Being an artist is often a solitary practice, but nobody gets where they want to be on their own.  Help your fellow artists and they will help you. 

Third, break the rules.  There are always going to be people who tell you that you can’t do something, or that there is one way to do it.  I would imagine by now you know this not to be true and I hope you stay strong in that conviction.  I am thankful that my time at MassArt instilled in me a solid desire to achieve my goals my own way, not by following someone else’s path, and an unwavering belief that it is a journey worth taking.

Lastly, and most importantly, make the work you need to make.  One of my professors told me, “If there is a question inside of you, say yes.”  His words play over and over in my head, far more often than I could have anticipated.  Every time I am faced with an uncertain situation, I hear his voice and it has literally kept me walking forward towards what I really want when my instinct is to turn around and take the easy way out.  The same professor gave an assignment to photograph the thing that you are the most afraid of because fear, he believed, is a good indication of desire.  Listen to the voice inside of you, even if it’s scary, because that is where your greatest work will come from.  These two lessons have stayed with me and informed the way I approach my work and my life. 

As you prepare for the next part of your journey, know that you are not leaving MassArt, only changing your relationship to it.  Connect with other artists.  Reach out.  Ask for what you need.  Break rules.  Believe in your work.  Think creatively about how to make the work you need to make and how to make a living.  Collaborate with each other.  And most of all, take pride in the fact that you have studied, worked, and grown as an artist at MassArt.  It is a privilege and a badge of honor to be a MassArt alum.  Wear it proudly. 

Thank you. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today's Boston Globe!

I am honored that Cate McQuaid chose my current show at Gallery Kayafas as one of her gallery picks for this week.  I especially like how she summed up the show as "two photographic meditations on place."  It's wonderful and satisfying to hear my work so aptly summed up in five words.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Trans conference, visit to Open View, and a show opening

This past weekend, I drove down to the Transgender Lives conference in Farmington, CT, where I gave an artist talk about my work Transcendence.  The talk went wonderfully- I met lots of new folks and made quite a few new portraits.  I continue to be humbled by the openness I find in my community, and I am thankful that people continue to share their stories with me.  It was also a blast to see people I have photographed and known before from various places coming together.  Here's a photo of me and my friend Jesse, who organized a big shoot for me last December and has since become a good friend.

Jesse and me before my talk

Late in the day on Saturday after a full day of presenting and making portraits, I hopped in my truck and headed straight to Open View Farm for a few days of photographing.  There were two new lambs born on Friday and I photographed them while they were only a few days old.  I can't believe I have been photographing at Open View for a full year.  It was a very intense experience to realize I have been paying close attention to a place, observing all of its changes and recording what happens with the passing of time, for a full year.  I started this project during spring lambing last year and now have come full circle.  I will continue to photograph throughout the summer and will then begin the daunting but exciting task of editing a year's worth of work into a coherent project.

Me holding one of the 4 day old baby lambs at Open View

My show Jess T. Dugan: New Work opened at Gallery Kayafas a few weeks ago, but this Friday from 5:30-8:00 is the First Friday opening reception.  If you are in Boston, I hope you can make it.
My book A Moment Collected: Photographs at the Harvard Art Museum is available for sale at the gallery as well as online here.

My dad is flying in from Arkansas to attend the opening on Friday, which is a rare treat!  This is my last show as a Boston resident, as I'm moving to Chicago this fall to start the MFA Photography program at Columbia College Chicago.  I am very excited for this next big adventure!  Stop by Gallery Kayafas on Friday if you can- I'd love to see you.

Work from A Place so as to Stay

Work from A Moment Collected: Photographs at the Harvard Art Museum