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Depth of Field

March 4 - June 20, 2021

For this new collage series, members of Elmhurst Art Museum’s Teen Art Council and York Community High School’s Black Student Union partnered with staff of the museum and the Design Museum of Chicago to respond to the lasting impact of the Chicago Freedom Movement through their own viewpoints. The teens were asked to tour their own living spaces and to consider their own relationship to their residences. Using disposable cameras, the students photographed architectural designs, textures, or anything else that connected them to the idea of home. Disposable cameras served as a way to intentionally move away from digital photo editing as well as establish a set of limitations for all participants. 

After photos were developed, the students were presented with a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from the “Our Power is Not in Violence” speech given at Soldier Field, Chicago on July 10, 1966:

Our power is not in violence. Our power is in our unity, the focus of our souls, and the determination of our bodies. This is a force that no army can overcome, for there is nothing more powerful in the world than the surge of unarmed truth.

This quote informed the final compositions of the mixed media collages, which used photography to create a visual connection to other work in the exhibition. Photography has an ability to capture a single moment in time or to document life events. Through the collage process, artists were able to take representational images and compose them in a specific and intentional way. Through their work, each teen artist reveals an interpretation of their own truth and hopes for the future. Depth of Field, a term used in photography, describes the distance between the nearest and furthest objects of an image while still remaining in focus. By connecting with the concepts of the Chicago Freedom Movement, this installation aims to expand upon these ideas as they remain relevant today.

This installation is curated by Elmhurst Art Museum’s Director of Education, Joseph Hladik in partnership with the Design Museum of Chicago, and serves as a new iteration of the “Great Ideas of Humanity'' exhibition series. Launched in 1950 by Chicago's Container Corporation of America, the Great Ideas advertising campaign series commissioned designers and artists to create a visual response to a great idea. In 2016, the Design Museum was encouraged by John Massey, former Container Corporation of America (CCA) Head of Design, to continue the project updated for the 21st century. Today the series celebrates globalization and cross-pollination of ideas, societies, and cultures by expanding the scope of ideas, presentation of responses, and inviting artists and designers to visually respond to a great idea.

Teen Art council is lead by Joseph Hladik, Director of Education & Grants Administrator.

This project is partially funded by JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation.

Images by Steven Koch.

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