Tommy Bruce

Furry can be roughly defined as a culture centered on anthropomorphic animal characters. Participants, called Furries, create their own avatars which they embody through artwork, costuming, and roleplay. I think of Furry as the center of a Venn diagram between a kink, a fandom, drag, and an identity group/social lens—like queerness or transness. I stumbled upon this community as a teen on the internet in the mid-00s, and quickly found myself at home in the queer, nerdy, and liberating space it offered me. I began photographing Furries in a documentary fashion in 2010, and in the years since then have moved my practice toward more conceptually-grounded photographs, performances, and multimedia projects. 

Many of my works feature Atmus—a white-tailed deer who I created as my own Furry persona—as both my stand-in and muse. Through Atmus, I make connections between my fears about the precarity of our world and my desire to live a more liberated existence. My work implores us to consider the Furry community not as a fluke, but as a reasonable and useful response to an increasingly alienating and oppressive “nor


Tommy Bruce’s work explores the formation of identity in contemporary culture through work with the Furry community. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and was born in State College, Pennsylvania. He received his MFA in Studio Art from the University of New Mexico in 2020 and his BFA in Photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014. His two-person exhibition with Mark Zubrovich, “Wild Desire,” opens at Sanitary Tortilla Factory in July 2023.