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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

‘We, Women’ Bloomingdale Trail Photo Exhibit Highlights Women And Nonbinary Photographers

The exhibit's grand opening is Saturday with an afternoon of programs, including a talk with Chicago photographer Tonika Johnson, whose work is included in the show.

The We, Women photo exhibit has transformed the Bloomingdale Trail into an art gallery.
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LOGAN SQUARE — The challenges facing Black pregnant women in Alabama, the plight of people in southwest Alaska — one of first regions in the country to experience relocation due to the climate crisis — and the effects of segregation in Chicago are just a few of the issues explored in a new photography exhibit on The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail.

Traveling photography project We, Women has taken over the western portion of the popular walking and biking path. Dozens of photos from 18 women and gender non-conforming photographers from across the United States are now hanging on fences along the trail. The exhibit’s grand opening is Saturday.

All of the photos included in the free outdoor exhibit, which is slated to stay up through September, tackle “crucial issues on the minds of many Americans,” including immigration, climate change, race and criminal justice reform, according to organizers.

Arin Yoon documented the divide between civilian and military populations in her town of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Sol Aramendi highlighted immigrant communities in New York City — “their daily lives, their labor, and mutual aid circles,” according to the exhibit’s website.

Local photographer Tonika Johnson, whose Folded Map project earned her the title of Chicagoan of the Year in 2017, is the exhibit’s sole Chicago artist. For a full list of We, Women artists, go here.

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The exhibit features artists “whose contributions demonstrate that there is a potential for a different future for this country,” co-founder Amy Yenkin said in a press release. “These artists have combined photography and community engagement as a way to maximize visibility and create impact.”

For the grand opening Saturday, there will be an afternoon of programs at the trail’s St. Louis Avenue overlook. In the event of inclement weather, programs will be held at the nearby Kimball Arts Center.

Saturday’s schedule:

  • Sunprints Kit is hosting an event 1:30-2:30 p.m. Eventgoers are encouraged to bring “small objects” to make prints. For more information about sun printing, go here.
  • Local nonprofit AfriCaribe is slated to perform 2:30-3:30 p.m. AfriCaribe is focused on preserving Puerto Rican and Caribbean cultures through music, dance, theater and other art forms, according to its website.
  • Johnson will give a talk 3:45-4:45 p.m. Johnson is a photographer and social justice artist who co-founded community groups Englewood Arts Collective and Resident Association of Greater Englewood. Johnson’s art “often explores urban segregation, documenting the nuance and richness of the black community to counter media depictions of Chicago’s violence,” according to the exhibit.

Chicago is the third stop for the We, Women exhibit after New York City and New Orleans. The exhibit is also slated to travel to Anchorage, Alaska. Other locations are still being worked out.

We, Women was “born out of a mutual frustration over the country’s deep political divisions across issues of economics, race, gender, and beyond” after the 2016 president election and women’s marches, according to the news release. The project aims to spur “action and dialogue through art.”

The Chicago exhibit is part of the Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series.

Some photos in the exhibit:

Credit: Photo Credit: Vero Ramirez
Sol Aramendi’s project, The Workers Studio, illustrates the daily lives of immigrants in New York City who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Credit: Photo Credit: Deborah Espinosa
Living with Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State is a project by Deborah Espinosa. The project shines a light on people living with crippling court-imposed debt. Keshena, pictured here, owes at least $50,000 legal financial obligations: “My debt: not only is it affecting me financially, mentally, emotionally, [but also] I want to live like normal people. It affects my mom, it affects my dad, and it affects my boys. My past is haunting me,” she said.
Credit: Photo Credit: Bethany Mollenkof
Birth Rights, a project by Bethany Mollenkof, delves into access to maternal healthcare for Black women in Alabama. Mollenkof herself found out she was pregnant during the pandemic, prompting her to turn the lens on herself.

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