My photographs are an attempt to seek and capture truth, recording forever one single moment. I am fascinated with people and their stories. Through direct portraits, some of which have been described as confrontational, I aim to capture a person in all of their specificity while also creating a portrait that is universal and larger than that one person.
For several years, I have been working on "the (trans)gender series." By photographing people within the transgender and gender variant community, I have been making images that speak to the many variations and manifestations of gender in our society. What exactly is it that makes us male or female, masculine or feminine? I am interested in discovering how deeply gender norms have become embedded into our society, so that even the smallest physical action or object is associated with one sex or the other. Through my images, I aim to question these norms and give a voice to the people who question and fight them every day. I strive to create photographs that are aesthetically beautiful in order to attract a viewer who may otherwise shy away from the subject matter, fusing a classical style with a contemporary subject and creating a forum through which a wider audience can relate to and understand people living a different experience from their own.
Ultimately, my photographs are an exploration into humanity, finding exactly what it is that makes each of us who we are while striving to make something larger, something universal, out of something very specific and detailed. I want to examine human relationships and come to a closer understanding of how and why we are drawn to one another. I want the viewer to recognize a part of themselves in my photographs, whether they are of a transgender person or a farm worker, a young child, or an elderly mother. I hope to inspire a feeling that we are all part of something larger, and that while we all have our differences, there is something burning, recognizable, and alive in each of us.
- Jess T. Dugan, 2008
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