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Roseland, Pullman

Local Photographers To Be Featured At Pullman Art Gallery, Starting With Opening Night Reception This Week

The "As Stewarded" photography exhibit explores stewardship and how it relates to architecture, infrastructure, preservation, demolition, construction and neglect.

Activist-artist Tonika Johnson poses for a photo in the 7200 South block of Green Street in Englewood on Nov. 9, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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PULLMAN — Local artists are coming together for a photography show this weekend in Pullman. 

Pullman-based photographer Soren Spicknall is collaborating with other photographers for “As Stewarded – Photographic Stories of the Built Environment.” The exhibition will kick off with a reception 6-10 p.m. Friday at PullmanArt’s Block House Gallery at 11137 S. Langley Ave.

There will be food from Tacos Sublime, which is raising money for a food truck, and drinks from Marz Community Brewing.

Credit: Soren Spicknall
One of “As Stewarded” show curator Soren Spicknall’s photographs depicts a boarded-up home.

The show, which Spicknall is curating, will feature work from eight photographers that explores stewardship and how it relates to architecture, infrastructure, preservation, demolition, construction, neglect and more. 

“’As Stewarded’ is a show all about how the spaces in Chicago and the areas surrounding Chicago are shaped by stewardship,” Spicknall said. “That can mean individual ownership. It can mean the policy environment around things like demolition and construction. It can mean a whole lot of things depending on who you talk to and who is focusing on what objects and what aspects of physical space.” 

The show allows artists with vastly different life experiences to explore how stewardship and physical space have impacted their lives, Spicknall said. Spicknall’s also interested in how these spaces can influence policy changes and decisions. 

Tonika Johnson, the creator of the Folded Map project, will have her work in the show. Pieces from Johnson’s project, which visually connects and pairs residents living at corresponding parts of Chicago’s North and South sides, will be featured. 

Johnson said she believes the Folded Map Project has only gotten more relevant since it was released in 2018. The photographs in the Folded Map project depict what she calls “Map Twins,” people with very similar addresses but are who live miles apart and in neighborhoods that are racially and economically different. 

“In 2018, my project aimed to visualize how segregation is rooted in the built environment of Chicago, the infrastructure, the investment,” she said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Óscar Sánchez speaks as organizers, neighbors and community groups march in Logan Square May 20, 2021 to rebuke Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s first two years in office.

Johnson thinks the photos can serve as a springboard for “As Stewarded” attendees to understand the country’s racial inequalities, which became more apparent during the pandemic, she said.

“I think it’s very important to have exhibitions projects like Folded Map in all communities in Chicago, because we’re all segregated,” Johnson said. “It being in Pullman is a perfect opportunity for those residents to learn about the inequity within the city; but, more importantly, to be invited to think about it, and to do something about it in their own personal lives.”

Oscar Sanchez, an organizer with the Southeast Environmental Task Force and co-founder of the Southeast Youth Alliance, will also have his work featured in the exhibition. It’s this first time his photography will be in a gallery showing.

Credit: Oscar Sanchez
Community organizer Oscar Sanchez’s photography examines how industry and neglect have shaped Chicago’s Southeast Side.

Sanchez previously worked with other community organizers to keep Southside Recycling, formally known as General Iron, out of the Southeast Side. Like his community organizing work, Sanchez’s photography explores how industry and neglect has impacted the Southeast Side, he said.

“A lot of the photos that I like show the Southeast Side, some of the industry that’s here and some of the areas that  have been left behind,” Sanzhez said. “And I kind of like traversing in — I’ll be very honest — an area that’s not open to the public.”

Sanchez hopes his photography shows how his community often feels neglected and underrepresented and how its residents, in turn, make a home out of place which often doesn’t feel like one, he said.

“These photos for me … [are] giving a unique perspective of what does it mean to be a community member here, capturing the community, but also capturing this one set of photos that really have a metaphor of like, ‘What’s been left behind what we’re trying to do with it?’” Sanchez said.

Cain Baum, Andrew Elders, Maclovio Orozco, Aidan Piper, Isiah “ThoughtPoet” Veney and Spicknall will also have work in the show.

Prints and framed works will be available to buy. Items will cost $20-$1,000.

Following the reception, the gallery will have open hours Thursdays and Saturdays throughout July.

Spicknall is excited to bring together so many South Side photographers, who don’t always have access to high-quality gallery spaces and big opening events, he said.

“We want to be able to make PullmanArts organization and the Block House Gallery, the space, into something that not only reflects that Pullman is a highly artistic community … but also reflects that the broad South Side, in general, is home to so many fantastic artists who are often excluded from traditional gallery spaces,” Spicknall said.

Credit: Tonika Johnson
Photos from Tonika Johnson’s Fold Map project will be featured in the “As Stewarded” photography show s. Ones like this one depict “Map Twins,” city residents who share similar addresses on opposite ends of the city.
Credit: Maclovio Orozco
A photo by Maclovio Orozco that depicts a child playing with a open fire hydrant will be featured in the “As Stewarded” photogrpahy show starting Friday, July 1.

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