Sunday, October 30, 2011

Exhibition of Transcendence at Leslie/Lohman in NY

I am excited that four new pictures from Transcendence will be on display at the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation in New York from November 8 through January 15.  Thanks to Cora Lambert for putting this two person exhibition together.  If you're in NY, stop by and check it out!

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art  
Portraits by Joelle Circé and Jess T. Dugan
 November 8th to January 15th 
   Come Celebrate at the  
 Opening Reception
Tuesday, November 8th
6 - 8 PM

Joelle Circé

Born in Montreal, Canada, painter Joelle Circé showcases several figurative oil paintings, representing the female body and the struggles and triumphs of being both transsexual and a queer woman. The personal depictions of eroticism, desire and fear create an exciting body of work exploring sexual identity.

Joelle Circé, Tango Styling Kiki

Jess T. Dugan 

Large format photographer Jess T. Dugan exhibits work from "Transcendence," a body of work portraying people from the transgender community. The work focuses on people who exist along the transmasculine spectrum, from those born female that don't identify as women, to those who physically transition or change their bodies. In an effort to increase understanding, the images portray issues unique to the transgender community while also highlighting the shared experiences of being human.

Jess Dugan, Dallas

These new paintings and photography highlighting human beings of transgender experience, will stay on exhibition 24 hours a day, viewable from the exterior of the gallery at street level as part of the ongoing window series curated by Cora Lambert bringing the work of LGBTQ artists to a public domain tackling issues of sex, gender, identity, and pop culture.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mary Virginia Swanson lecture

Mary Virginia Swanson gave a fantastic lecture about photo book publishing this evening as the closing keynote of the Filter Photo Festival.  It was a real treat, and very inspiring, to hear her speak.  I can't wait to sit down with my newly signed copy of Publish Your Photography Book, Swanson's 2011 book that she co-authored with Darius Himes.

Mary Virginia Swanson with my book and me with hers!

Mary Virginia Swanson signing her book for me

Photos from John Gossage lecture and Filter Photo Festival

It's been an exciting few days here in Chicago.  John Gossage came to lecture at Columbia College on Thursday evening and also spent Friday morning with our grad seminar class, which was fantastic.  The Filter Photo Festival is in town, and I have made it to a few of the events they put on. 

Below are some photos:

John Gossage speaking to photo students at the Museum of Contemporary Photography

John Gossage in grad seminar

John Gossage and Ross Sawyers in grad seminar

John Gossage critiquing Julie Weber's work

David Travis and John Gossage viewing work

Dawoud Bey viewing work

Me and Aline Smithson at Filter

David Bram and me at Filter

The crowd at Filter

Julie Weber and me at Filter

Patricia Lay-Dorsey and me at Filter

Me and Susan Barnett at Filter

Alice showing her work to Julie at Filter

Me and David Travis

Dawoud Bey, me, and Kelli Connell

Alison Carey, Paul D'Amato, John Gossage, and me

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Artist talk at the University of Missouri

I have just returned from Columbia, Missouri, where I was invited to give an artist talk.  My friend and fellow photographer Joe Johnson teaches at the University of Missouri, and he invited me to present my work to two of his photography classes, one intermediate and one advanced.  I took a bus from Chicago to Columbia on Monday morning, and the seven-hour ride was actually quite lovely.  I’m pretty sure I saw nothing but open fields for the first five hours, followed by a slightly urban respite as we paused at the bus stop in St. Louis.  Between St. Louis and Columbia, the landscape changed from flat and dry to hilly and full of beautiful trees.  If I used my imagination, it almost felt a little bit like driving through New Hampshire or upstate NY.  I have been in Chicago for about six weeks now, but this was my first trip outside of the city and it was great to see some of the landscape. 

I spoke to Joe’s classes on Tuesday, each one involving a one hour lecture followed by another hour of looking at prints and answering questions.  His students were fantastic, and after each class was dismissed, a small group of 6 to 8 students huddled around and we continued our discussions about portraiture, making work, gender identity, how to approach people, etc. 

It was a great experience for me in many ways, as it gave me an opportunity to refine my thoughts about my work even further and is the first time I’ve given a lecture since starting grad school.  In a relatively short period of time, grad school has already sent the wheels in my brain spinning and I’ve taken a huge leap into making new and exciting work.  Towards the end of my lecture, I explained my thoughts about where I’m headed with my work and also shared some things I’m currently struggling with.  The students seemed to enjoy hearing about the issues I am currently struggling with in my work, and it was nice to share that side of the art-making process.  It would be boring if I knew the solutions before I started wrestling with the problems. 

Aiden, 2011

I also spoke a bit about the image Aiden, which for me feels like a turning point in my work.  It is my most recent image and also the photo with which I ended my lecture.  Looking at it after I printed it, it suddenly became very clear to me that Aiden’s identity as a trans person was not at all what the photo was about. Rather, it was about his subtle sensitivity, his open gesture and the way I was looking at him, the ambiguity of his identity and my relationship to him, and very simply, the beauty of the portrait and the way it came together in terms of color and shape to create an image open to multiple readings and interpretations.  I spoke about how this is leading me in a new direction of photographing the sensitive side of masculinity and making portraits that explore both the desire to be masculine and the desire of the masculine. 

I was inspired that many of the men in the class responded eagerly to this idea of inquiry, and they told me it was something they would love to see, as the emotional and sensitive side of masculinity is not often explored or represented.  And, as a bonus to me, one of the guys in the class responded intensely to this idea and fit my new project perfectly, and he agreed to pose for a photo next time he’s in Chicago.  He was really excited about it and so am I.

Here are a few photos of the students looking at prints after the lecture:

Joe Johnson and me

Lastly, it was fantastic to spend three days with Joe, who I originally met at MassArt when he was a grad student and I was working on my BFA.  Though we have kept in touch for the past 8 years, this visit gave us a wonderful opportunity to spend time together, catch up about our lives, and stay up way too late into the wee hours of the morning talking about photography in the warm Midwestern night air. 

I am energized and excited by this trip and this experience, and am grateful to Joe for inviting me down to share my work with his students.  Now, back to life in Chicago!