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Every Breath We Drew: Jess T. Dugan

Opening Reception: March 11, 6 – 9 PM

Guaranteed to be a highlight of Month of Photography (MoP) Denver, the Colorado Photographic Arts Center and RedLine are pleased to present Every Breath We Drew, a solo show by acclaimed artist Jess T. Dugan. The exhibition will be on view at RedLine March 10 – April 9 with an Opening Reception on March 11 from 6-9 pm. Dugan will also give a lecture, A Decade of Visual Activism, at Arapahoe Community College’s Littleton campus on March 28 at 7 pm. All events are free and open to the public.


Every Breath We Drew explores the power of identity, desire, and connection through portraits of myself and others.  Working within the framework of queer experience and from my actively constructed sense of masculinity, my portraits examine the intersection between private, individual identity and the search for intimate connection with others.  I photograph people in their homes, often in their bedrooms, using medium and large format cameras to create a deep, sustained engagement, resulting in an intimate and detailed portrait.

I combine formal portraits, images of couples, self-portraits, and photographs of my own romantic relationship to investigate broader themes of identity and connection while also speaking to my private, individual experience.  The photographs of men and masculine individuals act as a kind of mirror; they depict the type of gentle masculinity I am attracted to, yet also the kind I want to embody.  Similarly, the photographs of relationships speak to a drive to be seen, understood, and desired through the eyes of a another person; a reflection of the self as the ultimate intimate connection.

By asking others to be vulnerable with me through the act of being photographed, I am laying claim to what I find beautiful and powerful while asking larger questions about how identity is formed, desire is expressed, and intimate connection is sought.


Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community. Dugan holds an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago, a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Dugan’s work has been exhibited internationally at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, and many other institutions, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, The Advocate, Slate, Huffington Post, and the Boston Globe. 

Her photographs are in many permanent collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Harvard Art Museums. Her work is also included in the Midwest Photographer’s Project at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, IL. In 2015, Dugan founded the Strange Fire Artist Collective to highlight work made by women, people of color, and LGBTQ artists.  She is represented by the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, IL.


COLORADO PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS CENTER (CPAC) CPACPHOTO.ORG | Founded in 1963, CPAC is dedicated to fostering the understanding and appreciation of photography through education, exhibitions, and community outreach. CPAC is supported by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, The Bonfils Stanton Foundation, Colorado Creative Industries, members, members, and individuals.

REDLINE | REDLINEART.ORG | RedLine Contemporary Art Center fosters education and engagement between artists and communities to create positive social change.

MONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY DENVER (MoP) | MOPDENVER.COM | MoP Denver is a biannual celebration of fine art photography with hundreds of collaborative events throughout the region.