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Medill Graduate's Photo Exhibit Captures Disappearing Community

February 1, 2005

The Robert Taylor Homes — once 28 towering buildings stretching along Chicago’s South State Street for 16 city blocks — are the subject of a photography exhibit at Northwestern University from Feb. 2 through April 1. The black and white photos will be unveiled at an opening at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2. A reception will follow.

Both the opening and “The Robert Taylor Project” exhibit are free and open to the public. They will be in the lobby of the Medill School of Journalism’s McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. The exhibit can be viewed Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The exhibit opening will include a film about the photographs and a question-and-answer session with photographer Jack Bridges and Stephan Garnett. Garnett wrote the text accompanying the photos.

“The Robert Taylor Project” is the culmination of a three-year effort by Bridges to create a visual record of a vanishing community. He began documenting Robert Taylor Homes and other Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) communities while earning a master’s degree at Medill. He chose the Taylor Homes in part because, as the nation’s largest public housing community, it is practically synonymous with the high-rise housing projects built in the 1960s.

Garnett, a journalist who teaches at Medill, says Bridges’ images “capture a way of life that is fast disappearing from the landscape of Chicago and other American cities.” By photographing a segment of America that most people never see, Bridges is contributing to a strong tradition of urban documentary photography.

“I hope people will look at the images and try to put themselves at Robert Taylor for just a moment,” says Bridges, who also has completed a series of photographs on the East Side of Detroit and another series of Northern Ireland’s paramilitary murals.

After continued visits to the housing project, Bridges says the Taylor Homes residents welcomed him. They fixed him meals, introduced him to their neighbors and asked him to take their family portraits. The show includes not only images of Taylor residents but also the vacant CHA structures as they were cleared out and demolished.

For further information about the exhibit and opening, call (847) 491 5401.

Topics: Campus Life