Event Recap : Jess Dugan Artist Talk & Book Signing
While walking through the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, Dave Gallagher recognized one of his client’s names. “To Survive on this Shore”, Jess Dugan’s exhibition at the Eastman House, was a moving experience. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of identity through photography, video, and writing. The project on display at the Eastman ‘To Survive This Shore,’ is a culminating of over five years of portraits and narratives representing the lived experiences of older transgender people that exist within the complex intersections of gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class, and geographic location.
Dave has always advocated for inclusion and equal rights as part of his personal and business goals. This commitment was brought closer to home as his son joined the LGBTQ+ community. Recently when ACP reached out looking to bring in an artist for Atlanta’s Pride Parade, Dave knew there was no better candidate than Jess. Their continued commitment to education and visibility for all facets of LGBTQ+ community has helped him become a better ally, and he hopes it will have a similar impact on those who encounter their work during this very special event.
For the next few months, CI in conjunction with ACP’s Stephanie Dowda DeMer and Ashley Kauschinger worked tirelessly to put together a public art installation of Dugan’s work, and bring them to Atlanta for an artist talk & book signing.
The installation included photos and excerpts from Dugan’s various bodies of work displayed on 5×5 foot photo cubes and windows throughout the Hyatt’s lobby & 10th St facade. Although the work is not exclusive to their most recent body of work ‘Look at me like you love me,’ the selection of images and passages reflect a similar theme focused on desire, intimacy, companionship, and the ways our identities are shaped by these experiences.
On the Thursday preceding the parade, many Atlantans turned out to attend the talk. Dugan lead the audience through a journey from their initial contemplations of identity as a child, into the processes and conceptualization behind their subsequent bodies of work, and now to the present as they work to capture the multiple generations of queerness in their family. There was a refreshing realness to Jess’ ever evolving creation process. They spoke about the early days of capturing, with what would now be known as a distinct body of work, originally created as individual pieces that fell together organically down the road. This in contrast to their current approach, photographing and expanding on narrower concepts within the broader theme of identity with a certain level of intention & vision for the end product.
Whether a budding artist gathering insights from an example of success, an ally looking to support & learn, or a passerby lead in by curiosity, everyone left with something of value. We cannot thank Jess enough for the work they put in to deliver such an impactful presentation, ACP for their dedication and effort to put this event together with us, and all our sponsors for their generous support.
A Special Thank You!
To The Hyatt Centric in Midtown Atlanta for hosting the event and public art installation, as well as sponsoring Jess’ stay.
To Digital Arts Studio for donating the beautifully made prints of Jess’ work for our photo cubes.