MINNEAPOLIS—September 2, 2020—An exhibition of large scale photographic portraits of transgender and gender expansive older adults by Jess T. Dugan will make its Minneapolis debut early this fall at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. “Vision 2020: Jess T. Dugan” is the first solo display of the artist’s work at a major metropolitan museum. Organized by Casey Riley, curator and head of the Department of Photography and New Media, the exhibition continues Mia’s yearlong exploration of contemporary photographic portraiture. Both reflective and uplifting, the eight featured artworks are accompanied by intimate first-person narratives by each sitter, as told to the artist and Dugan’s partner, Vanessa Fabbre.
“Vision 2020: Jess T. Dugan” will be on view in Mia’s Perlman Photography Gallery from September 17, 2020, to March 7, 2021. Seven works in the exhibition are promised gifts to the collection, and an eighth—a portrait of Minneapolis council member and activist Andrea Jenkins—was donated to Mia by Dugan and the Catherine Edelman Gallery of Chicago.
“Jess’s powerfully intimate work uplifts individual experiences, family relationships, and collective actions that are all too often excluded from our cultural histories,” Riley said. “These striking portraits and personal narratives do much more than merely represent their subjects, however beautifully—rather, they invite us into the sacred space of their humanity, wisdom, and self-possession. I’m immensely grateful to be sharing these evocative and empathetic photographs at Mia.”
Beginning in 2013 as a collaboration between photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker and assistant professor Vanessa Fabbre, the project has culminated in a book and set of exhibitions, both titled To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults. Over five years, Dugan and Fabbre traveled the country to interview and photograph 88 members of the community in their homes or personal spaces. Consent was crucial to their process; Dugan and Fabbre worked to ensure each participant’s contribution was respected and validated. A diversity of voices was also vital to the artists, a value reflected in the selection of works to be displayed at Mia.
“I’m honored to exhibit work from To Survive on This Shore at the Minneapolis Institute of Art,” Dugan said. “I’m particularly excited to show this work as part of ‘Vision 2020’ and at Mia, given its historical commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity. I believe in the transformative power of visual representation and hope that To Survive on This Shore serves as a catalyst for critical conversations about identity.”
“Exhibiting this work in Minneapolis is especially meaningful to me and my collaborator, Vanessa Fabbre, following George Floyd’s death,” Dugan added. “Many of the participants in To Survive on This Shore, such as Andrea Jenkins, whose portrait will be included in the exhibition, are trans people of color whose courage and hard work demonstrate the power of activism to effect social change.”
More information about To Survive on This Shore can be found at tosurviveonthisshore.com.
A virtual program is being planned for this fall. More information will be forthcoming.
About Jess T. Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre
Jess T. Dugan is a St. Louis–based artist whose work explores issues of identity through photographic portraiture. Dugan received their MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago (2014), their master of liberal arts in museum studies from Harvard University (2010), and their BFA in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (2007). Vanessa Fabbre, PhD, LCSW, is an assistant professor at the Brown School of Social Work and Affiliate Faculty in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Fabbre’s research explores the conditions under which LGBTQ people age well, and what this means in the context of structural forces such as heteronormativity, heterosexism, and transphobia.