Lecturer Earns Accolade for Wildlife Refuge Photography


Senior lecturer Dr. Jillian M. Duquaine-Watson photographed “Graceful Glider” in summer 2012 at the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge on Lake Texoma. The Friends of Hagerman NWR Foundation named her Photographer of the Month for January.

For Dr. Jillian M. Duquaine-Watson, documentary photography offers a fresh perspective of the natural world.

During the past few years, the senior lecturer in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies has traveled to the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge every month or two to capture images of the native plants and animals. The Friends of Hagerman NWR Foundation named her Photographer of the Month for January.

Dr. Jillian M. Duquaine-Watson

Dr. Jillian M. Duquaine-Watson

“This is the first time I’ve gotten a solo exhibition, so this is a big deal to me,” Duquaine-Watson said. “It feels like a huge honor because some of the other folks who photograph at the Hagerman, I’ve seen their work, and they do beautiful stuff as well.”

This month, an online gallery features Duquaine-Watson’s portfolio, which includes 12 photographs taken at the Hagerman. She said the refuge also will display her collection on-site and incorporate it into educational programming.

Located on Lake Texoma in Sherman, the refuge sits within the Central Flyway, one of the four main migratory pathways used by birds and insects, according to the refuge.

During her visits, Duquaine-Watson has observed deer, herons and foxes, as well as butterflies and damselflies. She calls her collection a meditation on “life at Hagerman – things great and things small.” 

“I think there’s a theme we see a lot, especially with nature photography, which is trying to enhance appreciation and understanding of different life forms and how they fit together,” she said, “and then trying to promote this understanding among people that their actions impact the natural world, including all the creatures that we see in it.”

The Hagerman portfolio ties in closely with the spring course Duquaine-Watson teaches, Documentary Photography: History, Politics and Impact. The class explores how documentary photography has been used historically and contemporarily as a tool of social change: to draw attention to social issues, to change perceptions or to encourage action, she said.

Cottontail in Spring

"Cottontail in Spring," May 2012.

Dr. George Fair, dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, said the Friends of Hagerman recognition reflects the expertise that Duquaine-Watson brings to her documentary photography class.

“Dr. Duquaine-Watson’s professional background and training in social change and development enable her to provide students with a unique consideration of how their actions impact and interact with the natural world,” Fair said.

Duquaine-Watson said the class discusses U.S. and global social issues, including genocide, child marriage, lynching and domestic violence.

For the final course project, students choose an issue they feel strongly about and then either curate an exhibition of photographs that were created to address the issue or create their own series of photographs.

Jeffrey Herpers, an interdisciplinary studies senior, credits the course to exposing him to many issues he knew little or nothing about. The collection he curated for his final project examined race relations in the U.S. in the early 20th century through the context of jazz music.

Herpers said he believes photographs are vital to driving social change because they force individuals to engage with a topic.

“An effective photograph brings the viewer face-to-face with an idea, and once an individual has seen a captivating, horrific or beautiful image, it is hard to simply ‘delete’ it from memory,” Herpers said. “In my opinion, when combined with readings that provide basic context for the images being discussed, documentary photography is easily the most effective method for confronting and exploring social issues.”

Perfectly Camouflaged

"Perfectly Camouflaged," October 2013. See more of Duquaine-Watson's Hagerman photography in the Hagerman gallery online.

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