We are thrilled to open the fall season with a compelling show by three women who confront the way African Americans are perceived in art, the work place, and through their physical appearance. How do you see me?features photographs by Alanna Airitam, Endia Beal and Medina Dugger. Each artist’s work will be presented in a unique and non-traditional manner.
The show opens this evening, September 7 and runs through October 27, 2018. Alanna Airitam and Endia Beal will be at the opening reception tonight from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.
When Alanna Airitam (b. 1971, Queens, NY) was studying the history of art, she noticed the absence of black people in the history of Western art. This exclusion is familiar to many dark-skinned people who are used to seeing themselves represented in paintings and films as domestic workers, slaves or barbarians. By inviting African Americans to pose in the style of classic Dutch portraiture, Airitam reclaims art history, shining a light on the racial disparity in her series, The Golden Age. Titling her images after places in Harlem — Saint Sugar Hill, Saint Minton and Saint Lenox — the artist pays homage to the Harlem Renaissance, which opened doors for many young African Americans working today. It is a powerful series that celebrates black identity while highlighting the racial divide that exists throughout art history.
Endia Beal (b. 1985, Winston-Salem, NC) focuses her camera on how African American women are perceived in the corporate world based on their physical appearance. As a young black woman in a mostly white dominated corporate job, Beal knew people talked behind her back about her hair, which did not conform to their definition of beauty. Now, as a professor at Winston Salem State University, Beal tackles the stereotypes that her students and other black women face when they do not fit the corporate mold. Am I What You’re Looking For? poses black women in front of a photographic backdrop of a typical office setting, wearing an outfit they find suitable for work. Through this work, Beal challenges the viewer to look at their own biases or sterotypes as they view the photographs.
Medina Dugger (b. 1983, Corpus Christi, TX) pays homage to Nigerian photographer J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, whose 40 year black and white photographic study of African women’s hairstyles set the standard for the celebration of black hair culture. African hair braiding methods date back thousands of years and Nigerian hair culture is a rich and often extensive process, which begins in childhood. The methods and variations have been influenced by social/cultural patterns, historical events and globalization. Hairdos range from being purely decorative to conveying deeper, more symbolic understandings, revealing social status, age and tribal/family traditions. In her Lagos studio, Dugger pays homage to historical and imagined hairstyles, honoring Ojeikere’s work through a contemporary lens in her series Chroma: An Ode to J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere.
How do you see me? brings together work by three women who dare to question racial stereotypes and biases that are seen in our history books and continue to exist today. Through these important photographs, the artists challenge the perception of beauty, and the different standards that exist based on skin color.
Catherine Edelman will be in conversation with Alanna Airitam, Sheridan Tucker Anderson, Jeffreen Hayes and Kate Lorenz on Thursday, October 18, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at 300 West Superior Street. A reception in the gallery will follow the panel discussion. More information and a link to RSVP can be found here.
2018 marks the fifteen-year anniversary of The Chicago Project, created in 2003 as an online-only gallery devoted to unrepresented photographers in the Chicagoland area. In an effort to promote local talent, Catherine Edelman Gallery put out a call for submission to all local photographers, that exists on a year round basis. To date, the site has featured more than 100 photographers whose images range from traditional black & white landscapes and documentary work, to color narratives and digital constructions. The goal of the online gallery is to expose local artists to our ever-increasing global audience of curators and collectors.
Born in 1982 in Germany Barbara Diener received her Bachelor of Fine Art in photography from the California College of the Arts and Masters in Fine Art in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Her work has been exhibited at Alibi Fine Art, Chicago, IL, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL, Hyde Park Art Center, Hyde Park, IL, David Weinberg Gallery, Chicago, IL, New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM, Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA, Invisible Dog Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Lilllstreet Art Center, Chicago, IL, Riverside Art Center, Chicago, IL. Pingyao Photo Festival, China, The Arcade, Chicago, IL, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA, Darkroom Gallery, Essex Junction, VT and Project Basho, Philadelphia, PA among others. Diener’s photographs are part of several private and institutional collections including the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Photography.
In 2013 Diener was selected to participate in two highly ambitious and competitive artist residency programs, the Fields Project in Oregon, IL and ACRE in Steuben, WI and she is currently participating in the residency program HATCH Projects 2015-2016 through the Chicago Artist Coaltition.
Diener is a winner of Flash Forward 2013, the recipient of a Follett Fellowship at Columbia College Chicago and was awarded the Albert P. Weisman Award in 2012 and 2013. In addition Diener received an Individual Artist Grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Events in 2015. She is the Collection Manager in the Department of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago and teaches photography at Oakton Community College and at the School of the Art Institute.
Phantom Power In my previous body of work, Sehnsucht, I photographed in small, rural towns that triggered childhood memories. During that process I met and became fascinated with a woman named Kathy. She owns the diner in her town and lives on her husband’s family farm, which is haunted by his ancestors. Her belief in the spectral sparked my own interest in the unexplained and ties back to my ongoing curiosity about religion, spirituality and the human desire to believe that something else happens after we die and that a part of us–the spirit or soul–continues on.
The camera is a crucial tool for most paranormal investigators, so it was a natural step for me to become an amateur ghost hunter myself. Photography has been linked to the spirit world since the 1860s with the popularity of spirit photography and post-mortem portraits. Since its invention photography has lent a sense of immortality to its subjects. In recent years the paranormal has received amplified media attention through numerous ‘reality’ television programs that sensationalize any phenomena for the camera. On the contrary my approach is self-reflective and curious. To make the resulting images I have adopted both traditional and contemporary methods of capturing the invisible, as well as employed my own interpretation of the magical and mystical.
Jim Ferguson I like to classify myself not as an emerging artist but as a reemerging artist. I have a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After getting my BFA, I started showing and selling my work. As a result of this effort my work is in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, Museo Nacional de Antropologia- Mexico, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, and numerous private collections. I am also included in the Macmillian Encyclopedia of Photographic Artists and Innovators. I took an extended leave of absence from showing but not photographing. Now I’m reemerging into the fine art photography scene.
Reconstructed Space Reconstructed Space is a portfolio made up of abstract landscape images taken in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the U.S. My intent was to share the hidden realities I see with my altered sense of depth perception.
Born cross-eyed, corrective surgery left me with no depth perception. I developed a different way of seeing things, measuring spaces, layers and distances that I use in my photography. It is this vision I share with my viewers.
Once I select a scene, I deconstruct then reconstruct the scene to show the viewer my take on the place, often creating an unfamiliar and potentially a disorienting depiction. I sometimes reinterpret a space by flattening and compressing layers of the various elements in the image.
I emphasize light, shadow, form and movement, in an effort to depict my personal perspective. By purposefully avoiding people and turning off color in my images I am able to produce a cleaner, stronger, more abstract photograph that brings out the graphic nature and textural elements in the shot.
Most of my photographs are taken outside the U.S., often in familiar locations. However, in my reconstructed images the locations become ambiguous. The scenes can be elusive. There is normally something, or enough in the image, that allows the viewer to define the image for themselves…to pull them into my work. I don’t care where they land as long as it’s a thoughtful landing. This allows the viewer to be part of the act of creation.
While often drawn to historical settings such as Medieval and Colonial towns and archaeological sites, I don’t feel obligated photographically to illustrate the preceding history, but to transform the place into powerful images that are both enigmatic and engaging.
Whit Forrester Forrester is based in Chicago, IL. He has a BA in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College and an MFA in Photography from Columbia College. He has exhibited widely, in both national and international contexts, and has a range of aesthetic interests that include: practices of accumulation, manifestations of power, diaspora, noetic science, new materialisms, discourses around the transcendent and the material relationship between self and world. These encounter fusion around ideas of collective liberation, quantum feminisms, queer theory, and decolonization as a spiritual practice.
Domesticating the Numinous As principal actors in nature, plants energize the spaces of my research and work. Here, historical and contemporary aesthetic dimensions intersect with our assumed relationships to the natural world, and to what is known as the Divine or spiritual. At this juncture I primarily employ photographic processes alongside historical techniques of representation to place the work in conversation with art and colonial histories. Gold to represent light, light to represent the Divine, and a portraiture which exists at the edge of still life and iconography. The resulting works are intended to guide our responses as both viewers and participants in the larger world, taking cues from new materialism and the ongoing discourses that conjoin the metaphysical and quantum.
Inside these aesthetic realms’ and metaphysical environment’s relationship to power, the natural world as the subject takes on multiple roles. It serves as a historical recipient, an active participant (equal in importance to our human physicality and spirituality), and ultimately a collaborative transformer for the social relationships that compose larger systems of economic and societal power. I am ultimately interested in the potential of houseplants to queer our perceptions of our environments through the capitulation that they are, in fact, living multidimensional prints of the divine themselves.
Andy Goodwin Most of my time is spent in the commercial photography world shooting for clients like Sony, John Deere, Aflac, Boeing, GM, FORBES and others. However, it’s my personal and pro bono projects that excite me the most.
The Charreada, predecessor to the American Rodeo.
What began as a curious look into a sport I was unfamiliar with became a fascinating journey into the world of the Charro, a proud culture filled with ordinary Mexican Americans who suit up on the weekends to keep their tradition alive. The time and money spent perfecting these skills handed down from 100 years ago is an incredible spectacle to behold. It’s a dangerous sport and the rewards are often little or nothing with men commonly getting injured.
Tradition can be a good enough reason to participate in something but there is a shared importance and comfort here that I think helps these dedicated horsemen stay connected to each other and to a heritage that must seem far away.
This work has been recognized by National Geographic and has won awards with The Smithsonian and The Creative Quarterly.
Angie McMonigal Angie McMonigal moved to Chicago more than 15 years ago and has been exploring the city with her camera ever since. Raised in a small town in Wisconsin, she approaches the urban environment with the spirit of someone who grew up surrounded by nature, finding moments of meditative calm in terrain that is always transforming. Focusing more frequently on bold architectural details rather than sweeping cityscapes, her photographs celebrate those unexpectedly iconic elements hiding in plain sight. From landmark buildings she distills the essential lines and textures that frame the city. McMonigal sees these structures as actively shaping, and shaped by, human activity; they are never mere backdrop. Steel and brick towers are presented as quilts rich with history, solid structures soar with soul, and concrete edifices echo the lofty ambition of planners and dreamers.
An award-winning fine art photographer, Angie’s work has been internationally exhibited and published. Her photos have been showcased by galleries in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and other destinations. Publication credits include National Geographic, Departures, and SHOTS Magazine. She has received awards from the International Photography Awards (IPA) and Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3), among others.
Urban Quilt In the city that built the first skyscraper, the lines that structure the urban landscape run north and south, east and west thus creating ‘the grid’. This is not just a tool for getting around; it’s the secret code that makes order out of chaos. However, the most striking lines are the ones that run from street to sky. The facades of Chicago’s imposing towers make up this whole other grid, the one staring straight at you, composed of windows, beams, balconies, pillars, rooflines.
We are surrounded by horizontal and vertical lines repeating rhythmically in steel, brick, stone, and glass. I’ve started to see this grid as a quilt. Because I don’t just see individual buildings standing there as imposing towers of steel. I see a patchwork. Different colors, different textures, different materials, different architectural styles, all pieced together. Some patches are pristine and new, others a little more worn. There are iconic patterns, immediately recognizable, and also bits that are hard to identify, fragments that feel familiar but are hard to place. Some blocks make clear that they were destined to be joined together, others look like accidents, or even challenging points of tension.
We often think of photographs as capturing a single moment in time. A shutter clicks, an instant is preserved. When I started photographing the city as an urban quilt, I became more aware of the way these buildings preserve different moments from our history. Those moments aren’t arranged in a nice orderly timeline like you’d find in a history book or a museum display. They’re standing next to each other, layered on top of one another. My photographs flatten out the miles between the streets and erase the years that separate one construction project from the next. It’s all stitched together now on a single plane.
Natasha Spencer is an interdisciplinary, American artist. Her digital work has screened in film, video, and new media venues across the country and abroad. Her audio piece, “The House She Flew In On”, is included on the compilation CD, “Extracted Celluloid”, produced by Illegal Art, Negativland, and RtMark, and has aired on the John Peel’s Show, Radio 1, BBC, London. In 2002 she was awarded a residency at The Wexner Center for the Arts Video Lab where she completed “The House She Flew In On : The Video” and “Somewhere”. Natasha received a 2004 Fellowship in the Media Arts from the Illinois Arts Council and an Illinois Art Council Fellowship in the Visual Arts in 1999. Additionally, she is archived at the The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC. Natasha currently works and resides in Chicago, IL.
Visual Improv When materials in an environment interplay in such a way that they allow everyday scenes to be framed as culture narratives; What went unnoticed is now obvious as a found object. Each photograph is a document of such observations, taken without further manipulation on my part, during the comings-and-goings of the day.
Samantha VanDeman Born in 1982, Samantha VanDeman grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. She studied fine arts at Columbia College Chicago, receiving a BFA in 2005. In 2007, she returned to college, this time to earn a MFA in visual arts from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University in 2009.
Samantha has been exhibited her work at Emory Visual Arts Gallery, Atlanta, GA; Finch and Ada, NY; New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery, New Orleans, LA; Las Manos Gallery, Chicago, IL; Gallery 263, Cambridge, MA; Midwest center for Photography, Wichita, KS; Gallery 808, Boston, MA; Change Artist Space, San Francisco, CA; Perspective Gallery, Evanston, IL; Barrett Art Center Galleries, Poughkeepsie, NY and Fourth Wall Projects in Boston, MA; Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY; Rayko Photo center, San Francisco, CA; Smashbox Studios, Culver City, CA; Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, OR; The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO; Wall Space Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA. She most recently was selected as a winner for Flash Forward 2013 and won first place for architectural interiors in The International Photography Awards. Samantha’s work has been published in SHOTS Magazine, LENSCRATCH, F-Stop Magazine, CDS Porch and International Photography Annual.
No Vacancy No Vacancy is an ongoing photographic series documenting abandoned hotel interiors that have sat vacant for nearly five to thirty years.
In my work, I’m often drawn to abandoned places that appear to be frozen in time. I use my camera to examine these places that have been forgotten by society. Through the use of color and light, I attempt to capture the beauty that once existed in these magnificent environments. By photographing these hotels, I hope to provide a visual record of what might be lost forever.
See the entire exhibition in full on our website here, and join us tonight for the opening reception with the artists!
Catherine Edelman Gallery is pleased to present Kelly Catarino, our current Ctrl+P: Photography Taken Offline artist! It was a joy for us to watch this exhibition grow day by day last week. The artist’s photographs and immersive installation will be on view through July 7, 2018.
Kelly Catarino (b. 1996, CT) is a photographer currently based in Chicago, IL. Her practice uses collage techniques to explore constructed landscapes, perception, and the space between virtual and physical space. She is pursuing her BFA (2018) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
From the artist: “Garden is an ongoing series that examines the site of the garden and its relationship to construction, escapism, and the desire to feel connected with nature. I use collage as a strategy for imagining constructed landscapes through its ability to simultaneously collapse time, space, and place. My photographs are multi-dimensional amalgamations that mix personal photographs, stock photography, and fake plants to play with variations in resolution between a multitude of images and image sources. These constructions play on photography’s ability to act as both mirror and mediator by creating a hyper-saturated world that attempts to blur the line between reality and fiction.”
Ctrl+P: Photography taken offline is an initiative at Catherine Edelman Gallery inspired by the hundreds of photographs we see on blogs and online galleries. Started in January 2011, Ctrl+P provides further exposure for new artists we find while searching the web, exhibiting a small selection of one person’s work every two months, taking the pictures offline and putting them on the wall. It is our goal that Ctrl+P will provide further exposure for these photographers away from the glow of a computer monitor and without the temptation to click to the next link. We hope you will join us by unplugging from the Internet and visiting CEG to see these photographs the way they were intended—in print.
Catherine Edelman Gallery is pleased to present, Tableaux, the second solo exhibition by Italian photographer, Francesco Pergolesi (b. 1975, Venice). The show opens May 4 and runs through July 7, 2018.
There will be an opening reception tomorrow, May 4, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. The artist will be in attendance.
Two years ago marked the American debut of work by photographer Francesco Pergolesi, who was raised in Spoleto, an Italian village filled with artisan shops and small businesses. His past exhibition, Heroes, featured work inspired by the people and places from his childhood that are slowly disappearing: the watchmaker fixing old time pieces; the frame shop where hand-milled frames line the walls; and the local cobbler whose walls are covered with leather hides. Working in collaboration with the shopkeepers, Pergolesi presents narratives that honor the past, while preserving the present. Work from Heroes is presented as small boxes lit from within by a LED light. New pieces from this series will be on display.
Tableaux continues his commitment to the people living in small towns in Italy, where human relationships are still the center of daily life. In Pergolesi’s newest series, he focuses his attention on the work surfaces that bear the markings and history of time. This can be seen in photographs of mathematical calculations, assorted tools used for framing, leather remnants discarded on the floor, and a paint splattered table that looks like a modern day Jackson Pollack. As he states:
“Tableaux is a project dedicated to the worktables of artists and artisans… Every table is a canvas generated unconsciously, thanks to the traces of daily work. The material is the tangible representation of memory… every detail becomes magnified, emphasizing the worth and uniqueness of the artisan’s work. The worktable is a reliable place, an esoteric shelter where day after day, year after year, generations repeat skillful gestures, generating ideas and solutions. It is a place where one puts together and transforms materials.”
Tableaux marks the artist’s foray into different ways of presentation, displaying the works as large scale mounted photographs and memory boxes. Upon entering the gallery, the viewer sees 21-12, a photograph of watch parts and gears, scattered on a workbench. On a pedestal sits a linen box that when opened, contains photographs along with objects from the artisan’s shop, creating a memory of the person and place depicted. Through these new pieces, Pergolesi honors the skill and labor slowly losing ground to automation.
Francesco Pergolesi sees himself as a guardian of a vanishing world where people congregate to talk about families and daily activities. Every Hero unearths a person from his past… and every photograph becomes a new theater set, inspiring him every day, as he continues to wander the streets looking for a connection
With support from the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago.
Installation of two exhibitions has been underway at Catherine Edelman Gallery this week! We are thrilled to present, Empire, new work by Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber in their second exhibition at the gallery. And in celebration of Barbara Crane’s 90th birthday, we are pleased to present The Polaroid Years, a solo exhibition featuring some of her best known Polaroid pieces from the late 1970s/80s including recent work from 2012. Both shows open March 2 with a reception from 5 pm to 7 pm. The artists will be in attendance. The Polaroid Years runs through April 14, 2018. Empire runs through April 28, 2018.
Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber were both born in the Midwest, in areas known for tornadoes, snowstorms and droughts. As children, these natural disasters became their playground and influenced their first collaborative series, The City. Apocalyptic in nature, this series imagined an interior world without people, with Mother Nature reclaiming her land abused by mankind.
In their newest series, Empire, the duo (now working under the moniker Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber) depict exterior spaces baring the scars of climate change and unexplained disasters. Working in their home/studio, Nix and Gerber transform cardboard, foam, glue and paint into small dioramas that are photographed with an 8 x 10 camera. Often taking up to several months to complete, these large scale models of everyday places – a highway overpass, newspaper boxes on a sidewalk, sink holes in an urban city – fall victim to decay, referencing the effects of pollution and challenging our perceptions of reality, and our responsibilities within it. As they explain:
“Because the work features a model and not a real place, it creates a safe space to think about larger ideas of disaster. Devoid of people, these spaces become meditative and full of possibilities. Landscapes are more than a visual record of an environment. They also capture the emotional, sometimes spiritual, essence of a place. Empire presents a world transformed by climate uncertainty and a shifting social order as it stumbles towards a new kind of frontier. These places are eerily beautiful but also unsettling in their stillness and silence. Long ago, man entered the landscape and forced nature to his will. Once grand and emblematic of strength and prosperity, these landscapes now appear abused and in decay, and it is uncertain how they will continue to (d)evolve.”
Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber have exhibited their works extensively in Europe and the United States and are in numerous public collections including the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), George Eastman Museum (Rochester, NY), The Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC), Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas (Lawrence, KA), Harvard Business School, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), among others. Lori Nix is the recipient of many grants including a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow in photography.
Barbara Crane is recognized as one of the leading conceptual artists to have emerged from The Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. With more than ninety solo exhibitions to date, including seven retrospectives, Crane has solidified her place as one of the most important experimental photographers today. For twenty-eight years she taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago becoming one of the most renowned educators worldwide, while consistently working on her own photography. She retired from teaching in 1995, and is currently working on several book projects.
Many of us have had a love affair with the Polaroid camera. It was the first time we instantly saw what we had photographed. The sound of the film emerging from the camera, the long wait for the image to fully appear… it seemed like magic. Barbara Crane was one of a handful of photographers who was given unlimited access to Polaroid film, allowing her to experiment and push the boundaries of the material. Several of these pieces will be on view, including some of her seminal SX-70 grids that examined repetition and its power to elevate simple patterns into majestic effects. In Polka Dots I, 1980, a grid of red dots play against a yellow backdrop, begging the viewer to see the difference between each frame. In Tucson, 1979, Crane manipulates Polaroid packfilm with a scribe, moving around the emulsion to create an outline of the subjects. And in Private Views, 1981, Crane spent time photographing at Chicago beaches and summer festivals, focusing on the people that make the city so culturally diverse. The Polaroid Years marks the return of Barbara Crane’s work to CEG, where it was first exhibited in 1989, shortly after the gallery opened. We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone with her.
Barbara Crane‘s work can be found in numerous collections worldwide including George Eastman Museum (Rochester, NY), The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL), Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), Library of Congress (Washington, DC), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL), Bibliotheque Nationale (Paris, France), Museum of Photography (Thessaloniki, Greece), Amon Carter Museum of American Art (Forth Worth, TX), among others. She is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants in 1974 and 1988, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in Photography in 1979, as well as many other grants and honors. Her archive will be housed at the Center for Creative Photography (Tucson, AZ), allowing the public and educators an opportunity to study her work in perpetuity.
See each of the exhibitions in full on our website.
This week, we’ve returned to sunny Florida for Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary. PBM+C will provide collectors a fresh opportunity to acquire important never-before-exhibited works from both the primary and secondary markets in the intimate setting of a 65,000 square foot clear span pavilion centrally located in downtown West Palm Beach.
Catherine Edelman Gallery is pleased to present all new work by Chicago photographer/painter Elizabeth Ernst in her third solo show, Shady Grove Nursing Home. The show opens January 5 and runs through February 24, 2018.
For more than 12 years, Elizabeth Ernst has created art about the people and entertainers affiliated with the G.E. Circus, a small family owned circus of aging performers. Over the years we’ve seen them pose for the camera in their fanciful outfits, relax backstage playing cards, apply makeup in their dressing room mirrors, and perform for enthusiastic audiences. Through intimate detailed images, we’ve witnessed their joys and fears, as the glory days of the traveling circus began to fade.
In her third solo show at Catherine Edelman Gallery, Ernst takes us into the Shady Grove Nursing Home, located in Clarence, NY, where several of the G.E. Circus performers have retired. Elderly, and suffering from various circus related ailments, many of the G.E. regulars find themselves waiting out their days telling stories about the good old days, substituting facts when their memories fade. But this is no ordinary nursing home. Shady Grove is situated next to a beautiful lake, and has all of the amenities one can ever desire.
Shady Grove introduces us to Jake, a retired chef in the cookhouse, who vows to keep smoking until he can no longer breathe; Lenny, one of the resident caregivers, who was a former trumpet player in the circus band and still serenades his friends in the evening; the clinic, where residents go to see Dr. Stanley, who has been taking care of them for more than 30 years; and Lois, a former showgirl dancer whose beauty is still apparent, even as her body slowly succumbs to old age. At Shady Grove, Elizabeth Ernst’s cast of characters share their remaining years with us, as they reflect, dream, fantasize and embellish their personal histories to staff and visitors. Through their eyes, we experience the difficulties and richness of circus life, as it continues to change and evolve.
Elizabeth Ernst is a professor emeritus at Columbia College Chicago, where she taught for 25 years. She is the recipient of numerous Illinois Arts Council Fellowships in Photography, and two Faculty Development Grants from Columbia College. Her work has been exhibited nationally and was recently featured at the Mimi and Ian Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, IN. Elizabeth Ernst lives and works in Chicago.