Jeffrey Wolin: Faces of Homelessness December 10 — February 15, 2022
For more than 30 years, Jeffrey Wolin has combined photographic portraiture with autobiographical texts, exploring issues about memory, identity, and trauma. Beginning in 1985, Wolin turned the camera on himself, writing personal stories directly on photographs that related to his life. Soon after, he began photographing residents at a housing project in Indiana, Holocaust survivors, and American and Vietnamese war veterans, combining portraits and personal histories directly on the photographic surface. His newest series, Faces of Homelessness, examines the homeless crisis and its complicated realities.
The homeless crisis can be seen across America, in small towns and major cities, on the streets and in shelters. While people are homeless due to drug/alcohol addiction or mental health issues, an overwhelming percentage are in this situation due to the loss of a job, domestic violence, divorce, sudden medical expenses, lack of affordable housing, and homophobia. And then there are the invisible homeless – families staying in hotels, with relatives, or couch surfing among friends. Wolin worked with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to understand the situation, mindful to present all aspects. His interactions took him from the viaducts under Lake Shore Drive, to Venice Beach in Los Angeles, and to newly rented apartments. Working in Chicago and Los Angeles, Wolin continues to honor people’s lives through their own words, helping us understand issues often unfamiliar or ignored.
Among the twenty-one images on view is Thomas G, who stated: “First time I was homeless I was 14 years old. I was kicked out of the house. There were 7 of us kids; I was the oldest. My dad died when I was 6, my mom when I was 12. My mom’s brother took us in but I wouldn’t obey the rules. I’ve had housing on and off since then. I’d heard about Uptown Tent City and I wanted to totally get involved. I got a propane stove and tank and I started cooking for the community. There were about 25 of us under Lawrence viaduct and about 20 under Wilson. We help each other. I got elected mayor of Uptown Tent City. I’m homeless but I’m happy. I’m doing what I enjoy doing: helping people.”
Maxica W, who said: “Three years ago I had a double mastectomy and 16 nodes removed from my left arm. I had 6 months of chemotherapy. I was in the process of buying a house but had to use the money for my chemo. e ended up at Olive Branch Mission Shelter. We had our own room but it had no doors. During that time I cared for my kids, took them to school each day. I’ll graduate in May 2019 with a degree in Business Administration and then go on for my Masters. I want to work with homeless and cancer survivors to help them deal with their problems and to pay back what people did for me.”
Cecilia M., Chicago 2020: “I became homeless January 2, 2020. Me and my 2 kids sleep in the living room at my mom’s house; we don’t have anywhere else to go. My dad gave me an air mattress. Every night I have to pump it up; I have to put the covers and sheets on, give the kids pillows. Every morning I have to take the air out, fold it back up. My goal now is to go back to work and back to school to study child development. I want to work at day care, save money and get an apartment of my own. It’s been 2 months since I left my husband and moved to my parents’ house. Set new goals for your life, especially if you have kids, to show yourself and your kids that Mommy is able to do it.”
The above people are just a few examples of how people end up homeless. As Wolin states, “My hope is that my photo/text images can contribute to the public conversation about the causes and possible solutions to some of the difficult issues surrounding homelessness and to gain more understanding of this large but rather vulnerable community.”
CEG, in collaboration with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, will be hosting panel discussions and smaller exhibitions throughout the city in 2022. Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram for announcements. New Release: Faces of Homelessness published by Kehrer Verlag.
Jeffrey A. Wolin was the Ruth N. Halls Professor Emeritus of Photography at Indiana University until he retired in 2016. Wolin’s photographs have been exhibited in over 100 exhibitions in the US and Europe, including solo shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, International Center of Photography in New York, George Eastman Museum in Rochester and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and group exhibitions at MoMA, Whitney Museum, and LA County Museum of Art.
His photographs are in the permanent collections of numerous museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO), Cleveland Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), Art Institute of Chicago, New York Public Library, George Eastman Museum (Rochester, NY), Whitney Museum of American Ar (New York, NY), Bibliotèque Nationale de France (Paris, France), and Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY).
Wolin’s work is included in dozens of books including six monographs: Written in Memory: Portraits of the Holocaust Chronicle Books, San Francisco; Inconvenient Stories: Vietnam War Veterans, Umbrage Editions, New York; Pigeon Hill: Then & Now, Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg & Berlin. His newest book, Portraits of Homlessness [KehrerVerlag] will be available in late 2021/early 2022. Wolin is the recipient of two Visual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Jeffrey A. Wolin is Ruth N. Halls Professor Emeritus of Photography at Indiana University. Wolin’s photographs have been exhibited in over 100 exhibitions in the US and Europe, including solo shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, International Center of Photography in New York, George Eastman Museum in Rochester and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and group exhibitions at MoMA, Whitney Museum, and LA County Museum of Art.
All pieces from Portraits of Homelessness are available as 17 x 22" and 24 x 30" in Ed. of 8 and 3 respectively, for $2200/$3500.