Certain events have an indelible effect on a person’s life, and for Joe Dugan it was the Challenger explosion, which occurred when he was five years old. The tragedy became the subject of his first drawing, and was thus his introduction to the world of creative expression. Nearly twenty years later, after earning his BFA, Dugan’s process is much the same. He allows the work to dictate itself to him, pulling in cultural references and starting with an open mind, energy, and enthusiasm.
Dugan’s paintings are neo-expressionist in nature, often evocative of the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Acrylic paint and oil pastels are his primary mediums, though Dugan often incorporates oil paint, glue, charcoal, and pen drawings into his work. Additionally, coins, paper, and found objects are frequently glued to his pieces to create texture. Dugan describes his work as a “new iconography that discusses politics, government, economy, war, disaster, morality, ethics, etc.” His body of work is, in effect, a near twenty-year examination of the human experience, of tragedy and joy and all that lies in-between.