About the Photographer
Lithuanian, b. 1939
Born in Lithuania in 1939, Jonas Dovydenas was forced to flee the country with his family in 1944 to escape the Soviet occupation. After spending five years in Germany, they emigrated to the United States. Dovydenas completed a BA in English literature at Brown University and went on to study photography at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He began working as a freelance photographer in 1968 and through the 1970s he lived in Chicago, where he became involved in photographing the city's ethnic communities. During this period Dovydenas also traveled to other parts of the United States, photographing with a straightforward style and an emphasis on the act of seeing and showing rather than any sort of visual acrobatics. In 1975 Dovydenas released the Faces portfolio — held in MoCP's permanent collection — which gathers fifteen photographs of varied groups of people from five different states. The images portray politicians and softball players in Chicago, churchgoers in Minnesota, ranchers and transients in Nevada, and overnight campers in California, among other people. Without any claim to comprehensiveness, the portfolio suggests a range of lifestyles while emphasizing a common humanity.
Since the 1970s Dovydenas has expanded his scope internationally. In 1985 he embarked on a twenty-year photographic study in Afghanistan. Making eight trips to the country up through 2005, Dovydenas explores subjects such as freedom, devotion to family, and human expression, during intense periods of conflict and moments of fragile peace. Between 1996 and 2002 he also photographed in his home country of Lithuania, documenting examples of both public and private life. Dovydenas now lives in Lenox, Massachusetts and Vilnius, Lithuania.