Thankful for Their Stories

Being in the Windy City, I’m constantly surrounded by people. Everyday, I pass by crowds of school kids, homeless people, and white-collar workers. I, like all of them, keep walking. But this place, the Museum of Contemporary Photography by Columbia College Chicago, reminded me to stop walking. Talk to the person waiting in line with you or on the elevator. Because simple conversations can be opportunities to show compassion and create a positive impact on someone’s day.

Stories

[All information I gathered about these exhibits can be found on the museum’s website or at the museum]

The first exhibit, As Time Goes By by: Barbara Davis, I visited shows parents, lovers, siblings, or friends, over several years starting in the 1980’s. There aren’t any words except the subjects’ names and the year. None of them were smiling throughout, which I thought was interesting, but I loved how you could try and guess their stories but never truly know.

Stories 4

After viewing, As Time Goes By, I drifted towards the back of the museum where I found this installation and photography by Leonard Suryajaya. His story is a mix of cultures, he grew up Indonesian with Buddhist faith and Chinese origin in a predominantly Muslim country. On top of that Suryajaya actually based his photos off of classic works of art, like Édouard Manet’s Olympia. I felt immersed in a completely different culture than my own, which was amazing because I haven’t travelled outside of America yet. There’s so much out there beyond my reach, but this museum let me have a peek. Also this installation features a tiny camera that will record you on a flatscreen, so this would be me if I were a part of Suryajaya’s installation!

Stories 3

These exhibits had beautiful stories, but I think the next ones were particularly important to view. Also, I found the following exhibits on the museum’s upper levels (there are 3 floors) so definitely look for the staircase in the main room on the first floor, which Taylor snapped me on here:

Stories Stairs

It’s kind of tucked away which is why I’m pointing that out! Anyways, on the second floor is this satellite exhibit called Disruptive Perspectives by Jess T. Dugan. Every story was about beautiful transgender people throughout America. I found SueZie and Cheryl’s story particularly touching because SueZie transitioned to a woman during their marriage and Cheryl stayed with her through it all. The kind of love that lets each person truly express themselves no matter what gender identity or sexual orientation they are is so heartwarming. I’m thankful for being able to read their story and understand part of the true meaning of unconditional love.

Stories SuZie Cheryl

The final exhibit I’ll mention is Il n’y a pas d’homosexuals en Iran (There are no homosexuals in Iran) by Laurence Rasti. In 2007, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a speech at Columbia University that, “There are no homosexuals in Iran.” The title of Rasti’s exhibit makes this quote satirical in a way because the series shows all the brave gay Iranian refugees who fled their country to be able to express their sexuality. The subjects keep their faces hidden in the photos because being gay in Iran is punishable by death, and this acts as a reminder of that threat. But there are bright colors that show their present will lead to a brighter future. My favorite was the photo below:

Stories 5

The Museum of Contemporary Photography reminded me of how important people’s stories are and how they can affect each other’s lives. I’m so thankful for the people around me who have shared their stories. Whether they are happy stories or difficult ones to tell, I appreciate them all. Thank you for listening to my story, Her Chi Blog, and I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving.

xoxo,

Lainey

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