Jess T. Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre

To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults

September 6 – October 10, 2018

Opening Reception and Book Release                                    Thursday, September 13 | 5 – 8PM

Artist Talk with Jess T. Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre                              Saturday, September 15 | 11AM – 12PM

Storytelling with PROMO and Metro Trans Umbrella Group      Friday, September 21 | 6 – 8PM

Contemporary Art Museum Open Studios
Sunday, October 7 | 10AM – 5PM

projects+gallery is thrilled to present To Survive on This Shore, a new photographic exhibition on view from September 6, 2018 through October 10, 2018. This interdisciplinary project is a collaboration between Jess T. Dugan, photographer, and Vanessa Fabbre, social worker and assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, whose research focuses on the intersection of LGBTQ issues and aging. An artist’s reception will take place at the gallery on Thursday, September 13, 2018, 5-8 p.m.

For over five years, Dugan and Fabbre traveled throughout the United States seeking subjects whose experiences exist within the complex intersections of gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class, and geographic location. They traveled from coast to coast, to big cities and small towns, documenting the life stories of this important but largely underrepresented group of older adults. The featured individuals have a wide variety of life narratives spanning the last ninety years, offering an important historical record of transgender experience and activism in the United States.

The exhibition will include twelve 30 x 40 in. and ten 18 x 24 in. photographs, each paired with texts illuminating the life narratives of those photographed. The hardcover book (Kehrer Verlag, August 28, 2018) contains 65 portraits and texts as well as an interview with Dugan and Fabbre conducted by Karen Irvine, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, IL. The official book release will take place at the opening reception of the exhibition on September 13 from 5-8 p.m.

While Dugan’s earlier work focused on issues of identity, gender, and sexuality – and often on LGBTQ communities specifically – this is her first body of work that focuses on older adults, a result of her collaboration with Fabbre. Dugan’s portraits are open, emotive, and nuanced, utilizing direct eye contact to facilitate a meaningful exchange between subject and viewer. For the accompanying texts, Fabbre provides selections of full-length interviews to enhance the viewer’s connection to each subject’s story. The resulting book and exhibition provide a nuanced view into the struggles and joys of growing older as a transgender person and offer a poignant reflection on what it means to live authentically despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

While selections from the series appeared last year in the exhibition Disruptive Perspectives, on view simultaneously at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, IL and Photoforum Pasquart in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, this is the first solo exhibition of the work.

Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of identity, gender, sexuality, and community. She holds a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Her work has been widely exhibited at venues including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the San Diego Museum of Art; the Aperture Foundation, New York; the Transformer Station, Cleveland; and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. Her first monograph, Every Breath We Drew, was published in 2015 by Daylight Books. The same year, she was the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and was selected by the White House as an LGBT artist Champion of Change. Her second book, To Survive on This Shore, was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2018. She is represented by the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, IL.

Vanessa Fabbre, PhD, LCSW, is an Assistant Professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is also Affiliate Faculty in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and a Faculty Scholar at the Institute for Public Health. She received her PhD from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Her research explores the conditions under which gender and sexual minorities age well and what this means in the context of social forces such as heteronormativity, heterosexism, and transphobia. She is also interested in critical perspectives on social work practice and interpretive methodology in the social sciences. She is actively involved in the Gerontological Society of America, the American Society on Aging, and the Society for Social Work and Research. Her work has been published in The Gerontologist, the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, Social Work, the Journal of Gerontological Social Work, the Journal of Urban Health, and the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.