Back in the early new millennium, 2000 – 2006, Chicago was tearing down the larger public housing complexes such as the infamous Cabrini Green and Robert Taylor structures. As a photographer I was already into the bleak and dreary, post manufacturing structures that you could find in the Chicago area, so the idea of documenting building demolition was pretty intriguing.
I started spending a lot of time looking at these buildings at various times of day. Since it took a long time for the City to relocate the tenants, numerous structures within the complexes were still inhabited even as neighboring buildings were being demolished. It didn’t take long to start considering the lives of people living there. Actually I started to question if I wasn’t yet another photographer exploiting a tough situation. But in the end it didn’t matter. This is our world and exploring it is a valid effort.
But the question brought about a cool shift in my approach. Discussing it with a friend, he suggested that I work with the kids who were directly affected by the changes. As it happened I knew a CPS art teacher and we came up with idea of providing the students with disposable cameras and starting a photo and video class. She also introduced me to another CPS extremely dedicated, experienced and effective art teacher who was generous enough to let me sit in some of his classes and talk to any students that were interested in participating. The project became a non profit and continued on for several years but I’ll talk about that more and show some of the photos in a later post.