Artist: Jim Dukes
Medium: Photography B&W
Show: Vol. 2
I was born in 1971, raised in Cary, NC, in a Wonder Bread, conservative Catholic household, the 3 rd of 4 kids and the only boy. I attended public schools, was an average student who always thought there was something bigger out there for me. I started working at age 13, delivering papers and cutting lawns. I began using my Civil Engineering degree as an Explosive Ordinance Technician in 1992 working as a contractor for the United Nations, Dept. of Energy and Defense Department. After four years and numerous injuries, I spent the rest of my career in environmental and construction management industry. In 2012, my life drastically changed after my 5 th Traumatic Brain Injury.
I make art to help myself and others heal from their invisible and or visible wounds. I’ve been through a lot of trauma starting at 6 years old; abuse of all kinds, survived explosions, suicide, saved lives and taken them. I’ve been sober since 2006 and facing my past in therapy ever since.
Over three years ago I arrived at a crossroad. Was I going to be a disabled man, or a man with a disability? Legally blind in my right eye and with no musical or dancing abilities, broke and living at home with my mom, I picked up my cell phone and started taking pictures. I started using my right brain since the left brain function was severely and permanently changed. I started making art my therapy tool.
I have many artistic inspirations, but my biggest inspiration is my son. He was born in 2008 and has assisted and observed me through my brain injury recovery. I vowed to be an example for him to learn what it takes to overcome adversity. I constantly struggle with anxiety, post traumatic stress and anger management issues. Most days I do not want to leave my home, but I set goals with my art and it forces me to go out, accomplish tasks, interact with people and bolster my confidence. My health and wellbeing inspire me to create. I feel if I am creating and healing, someone in my situation may take notice and begin their own journey of productive self-improvement.
I am always on alert for danger. I am hypervigilant. I notice the tiniest details; every movement, sound, smell, reflection, shadow, emotion. I use these skills for my survival. I choose to apply this attention to detail in my photography as a healing tool. I now look through the camera lens and see the unique beauty in the world around me, as opposed to all the things that could kill me. I attempt to deliver the details I see, to the person viewing my work. When I’m taking pictures, my mind is occupied by thoughts of how I can capture this unique moment; I’m thinking philosophy and storytelling, not shutter speed and aperture settings.
My work means forward progress, healing and growth. Sure, I care if people like my work, but I don’t feel the pressure of creating the perfect piece. My photography is an expression of my emotion. Emotions are neither right or wrong, they just are. With every piece I create I feel a little more whole. I am extremely appreciative of people absorbing the outward expression of my feelings. You have just viewed a piece of me. You have witnessed hours of work, emotional interpretation, anxiety, edits, second guessing, satisfaction, restarts and imperfection. In the time it took to view one photograph, you have experienced being human.