John Dugdale’s cyanotypes – still life, portraits, nudes, landscapes – poignant and emotionally charged tools for remembering hopes, fears, and dreams with refined Pictorial sensibility.
In 1994 a stroke, after AIDS-related complications, left the young photographer (b. 1960) nearly blind, and over the years since, he lost the remainder of his vision. Life forced him to see and photograph in a new and more personal way.
“The quietude that people respond to in my pictures is, in part, because of the way the pictures are made: no flash; no harsh electric light; not even the sound of the shutter—just a lens cap removed, and then gently replaced. This encounter provides, for me, a metaphor for looking.
A series of Dugdale’s recent photos is inspired by the works of great 19th century American writers and thinkers as Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickinson. Dickinson’s poetry, in particular, helped him use his imagination to compensate for his lack of sight. “Emily Dickinson flew over her house and observed her life from above before there were airplanes, I totally identified with that when I was paralyzed. It was very easy to leave my body.”
“Being blind is not what you think. It’s not all darkness. My optic nerve still works and shoots a beautiful ball of brightly colored orange and purple and violet light and sparkling flashes all the time.”
Dugdale’s theme is one of survival and the triumph of the creative spirit; his vision is of gracious beauty, emotionally rich and sensual.