South Shore Arts exhibit focuses on humanity in Munster show


David Mika, executive director of South Shore Arts, describes the new expansive photography exhibition in the Bachman Gallery space of The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster as “a fascinating look at the human condition.”

“This exhibit strikes a balance of both the everyday and extraordinary,” Mika said.

“Each photograph gives much to think about.”

“THIS IS IT: a human-centered view of US” displayed through Jan. 8, 2023, features long-term-photodocumentary projects and photojournalism by award-winning and renowned photographers, including Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist John H. White.

Hours are 10 am to 5 pm Mondays to Fridays, 10 am to 4 pm Saturdays, noon to 4 pm Sundays.

A free public reception from 5 to 8 pm Nov. 17 invites guests to meet and discuss the highlighted works with the featured photographers.

The exhibiting photographers, in addition to White, include Jess T. Dugan, Mariah Karson, Jon Lowenstein, Stephen Marc and Carlos Javier Ortiz.

“Excellent documentary photography has the potential to bring about change and allows the viewer an intimate moment to empathize and stand in someone else’s shoes,” said co-curator Linda Dorman, who served as director of exhibits at South Shore Arts in the 1990s, and now shares these duties with her artist and teacher husband Tom Torluemke.

“This was the guiding star in the selection of photographers for this exhibition.”

Both color and black and white photography is included in the exhibit of more than 80 works, all with a varied range of subject matter, from portraits and scene setting to candid images demonstrating powerful symbolism and artistic eye interpretation.

Ortiz chose to include work taken from his “We All We Got” collection, which he began as a photography project in 2006 “as an idea to address the aftermath of gun violence on young people and their families.”

Best described as a documentary project, he said it includes a decade of filming and photographing “the lives of families impacted by gun violence in black and brown communities throughout Chicago and New York.” Ortiz’s photography has been used to address policies about gun violence and raise awareness.

Mika hails the new South Shore Arts collection of assembled photographs as “a blockbuster exhibit” which he predicts “will draw some of the largest crowds,” of the five exhibitions produced by South Shore Arts annually in the main Bachman Gallery space.

“We are very excited to host these amazing photographers,” Mika said.

“And the subject manner is a thoughtfully curated show that features multiple perspectives of life. It is designed to foster healthy consideration and conversation across these multiple perspectives.”

He said there are key companion programming opportunities as added bonuses for the exhibit.

A panel discussion with featured photographers Lowenstein, Marc and Ortiz is at 2 pm Nov. 19 and at 7 pm Dec. 1 there is “Photo Projects — Slideshow Night” in the gallery with guest host Michael Zajakowski, director of photography for Chicago Magazine.

In the final week of the exhibit, at 6 pm Jan. 5, 2023, Karson will host “American Legion: A gallery talk” to tour guests through the exhibit and provide her added explanation insights into her work.

“Each photographer selected demonstrated a dedication to their practices and subjects through their unique approach, taking us on a visual journey through human experiences,” co-curator Torluemke said.

The exhibition is free and open daily except for holidays was underwritten by a Transform Lake County grant from the Legacy Foundation of Lake County, Indiana, the philanthropic entity which has been awarded $40 million in grants and scholarships to nonprofit organizations and individual projects since it launched in 1992.

“South Shore Arts received a generous $10,000 from the Legacy Foundation grant to support ‘THIS IS IT: a human-centered view of US,’” Mika said.

“This grant is what allows us to produce the free programs and events which as the lectures and artist opening reception we have scheduled throughout this exhibit run.”

‘THIS IS IT: a human-centered view of US’

when: To Jan. 8, 2023

Where: Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster

Costs: Free

Information: 219-836-1839

Philip Potempa is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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