ARTIST SERIES

Jess T. Dugan writes: “‘Family Pictures’ is a long-term project focusing on three generations of my family: my partner Vanessa and me, our daughter Elinor, and my mother Diana and her partner Chris. I am interested in the complexity of these relationships, both given and chosen, and how they change over time. While these photographs are highly personal, they also address a broader lack of representations of queer families in society.

“I began this project in my mid-twenties. The photographs with my mother explored my relationship with her from a child’s vantage point, and the photographs with Vanessa captured our relationship in its early years. Over the past decade, these relationships have deepened and evolved significantly. Becoming a parent in 2018 fundamentally changed how I view myself, and it transformed my understanding of family and my orientation to the world. The experience of simultaneously being a child and a parent altered my relationship with my mother, and parenting Elinor threw aspects of my own childhood into heightened relief, causing me to revisit memories and feelings from my past.

“Another undercurrent in my work about my family—and one that is not visible here—is my estrangement from my father, resulting from his lack of acceptance of my relationship with Vanessa and our desire to raise a child together. I am actively working to be a different parent to Elinor than he was to me: to support her, nurture her, and love her unconditionally.”