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"Trauma and Memory" with Jeff Wolin & Lisa Yun Lee


Trauma & Memory

with Jeffrey Wolin and Lisa Yun Lee

Moderated by Lewis Kostiner

Moderated by Lewis Kostiner, this discussion led by photographer, Jeffrey Wolin and Professor Lisa Yun Lee will revolve around interviews that Wolin conducted with the residents of Pigeon Hill, a housing project, in his book, Pigeon Hill: Then and Now.

Over 30 years, Jeffrey Wolin has worked on several long-term photographic series which address issues of photography's relationship to memory; how memories are constructed over time; and the role of trauma and memory. His work includes portraits of Holocaust survivors (Written in Memory), American and Vietnamese War Veterans (From All Sides), and residents of a housing project (Pigeon Hill: Then & Now). Wolin includes text, sometimes hand-written directly on the photographs, sometimes typographic on adjacent panels. The stories are transcribed verbatim from interviews with the subjects to convey to the audience their voices and experiences. Wolin hopes to create a feeling of empathy for those who managed to survive intensely difficult circumstances, which have important lessons to teach all of us about the resiliency of the soul.

This event is FREE & OPEN to the public!

Registration is not necessary,
but appreciated due to space limitations.

About Pigeon Hill: Then & Now:
Jeffrey Wolin's Pigeon Hill: Then & Now, published by Kehrer Verlag in 2017, consists of portraits of residents of a typical American housing project where poverty, drug abuse, and crime are everyday realities. Wolin photographed hundreds of individuals over a four year period before putting the series on the back burner. Fast forward twenty years: Wolin read in the local newspaper that one of the people he had photographed was murdered by a meth dealer. He decided to return to the Hill to relocate and rephotograph his original subjects. Wolin conducted interviews about the arc of their lives and wrote the subjects' own words directly on the prints using a photo-textual style he developed working with Holocaust survivors for his series, Written in Memory. In the book and accompanying exhibition the then and now portraits are shown side by side.

The economic condition of many of the residents of Pigeon Hill remains poor, while others now live solidly middle-class lives. More than a few of the residents are firmly entrenched in the criminal system, usually for non-violent crimes such as lack of payment of child support or drug use - America has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. Although these issues are addressed in this series, the main focus in on the faces themselves, especially when juxtaposed with the earlier portraits. One can see the effects of the passing of time and the ways in which life's experiences are written into these open and expressive faces.

Pigeon Hill: Then & Now books will be available at kibbitznest
on April 12th or you can find Jeffrey Wolin's other books on his website at

As he began reconnecting with the residents, Wolin was struck by the passage of time.
Not only how people had aged or seemingly hadn’t, but also whether or not they had
been able to make better lives for themselves than the oppressive ones within the
welfare system. He began taking new portraits of the people he met and then had them
tell their thoughts about both the then and the now portraits.
— David Rosenberg, Slate
In some pairings, the then and now photos play foil to each other. Others tell a
story of progression. “I was only four when I saw my first stabbing, I knew I had to be
tough just to survive on the Hill,” Wolins subject, Wendy told him. Years later she has
become a water-quality engineer who drag races on the weekends.
— May-Ying Lam, Washington Post

About Jeffrey Wolin:
Jeffrey A. Wolin is Ruth N. Halls Professor Emeritus of Photography at Indiana
University. Wolin's photographs have been exhibited in over 80 exhibitions in the US
and Europe since 1990 including solo shows at the Art Institute of Chicago,
International Center of Photography in New York and Museum of Contemporary
Photography in Chicago.

Wolin is the recipient of two Visual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment
for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is represented by Catherine Edelman
Gallery in Chicago.

About Lisa Yun Lee:
Lisa Yun Lee is the director of the School of Art & Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the visiting curator at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, and an associate professor in art history and museum and exhibition studies. As the previous director of the Hull-House Museum, she reinvigorated public programming, developed award-winning preservation programs, and installed a new core exhibition that integrates radical exhibition strategies and contemporary art. Lee is also the co-founder of the Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council, an organization dedicated to creating spaces for dialogue and dissent and for reinvigorating civil society. She has published articles about feminism, museums and diversity, and sustainability. She also writes for In These Times Magazine, and received her B.A. in Religion from Bryn Mawr College, and a Ph.D. in German Studies from Duke University. She is currently chair of the Imagining America National Advisory Board.

About Lewis Kostiner:
Lewis was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1950. He attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He then attended the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. He taught at Columbia College in Chicago from 1973-81 as an Adjunct Professor of Photography. He was a faculty member at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 2007-2012.

This is a Special Presentation brought to you by donors and supporters of
kibbitznest, a 501(c)(3) organization