Picture perfect

David SchalliolDavid Schalliol, AM’04, a PhD student in sociology, has been photographing Chicago’s changing landscape since he came to the University in 2002 for graduate school. In 2000, combining his artistic interests with his academic ones, he launched Metroblossom, which uses photography, paintings, and text to explore the evolving relationship between the urban jungle and the natural world in which we develop it.

Managing editor of the Chicago blog Gapers Block, Schalliol also adds to his online photo library through his Metroblossom Flickr page. His photography will be featured in the Catherine Edelman Gallery's "Chicago Project III" exhibition, alongside other Chicago photographers, beginning today. He recently spoke to UChiBLOGo's Luke Fiedler, '10, via e-mail.

QandA_QDrop.jpgHow did you end up in this exhibit?
QandA_ADrop.jpgI am part of the Catherine Edelman Gallery's Chicago Project, which is, in their words, "an online gallery devoted to new and established photographers in the Chicago area who we feel deserve recognition." Every two years the gallery puts together a show featuring some of the members of the project.
QandA_QDrop.jpgYou’ve lived all over the Midwest and are originally from Indianapolis. What is it about Chicago that makes it such an interesting subject for you? What are you trying to capture?
QandA_ADrop.jpgMy Chicago work is about transformation and social stratification. I often focus on buildings because they are particularly useful windows into understanding the historically layered nature of urban life.

As a teenager I would drive into Chicago from Indianapolis to visit museums and see punk shows. Among my clearest memories are those of the nearly solid wall of public housing that ran alongside 90/94 from 54th Street to 22nd Street: Robert Taylor, Stateway, Dearborn, Ickes, and Hilliard. On the north end, the wealth of the Loop was just a few blocks away, and on the south, Hyde Park and the parks that surround it were so very close. Documenting the rehabilitation and demolition of those buildings and their communities has been immensely fascinating. I hope my work casts a light on and contributes to the discourse surrounding these important policies.

QandA_QDrop.jpgYour Metroblossom account was just named among the “12 Superstars of Flickr” in the May/June issue of American Photo. What are your observations on how sharing contemporary photography have been reshaped?
QandA_ADrop.jpgObviously, I was excited about the way the American Photo piece turned out. The piece highlights the possibilities of virtual exhibition spaces like Flickr, particularly for individuals who aren't formally trained in photography and are seeking some feedback on their work (and wish to offer feedback to others). I see Web sites like Flickr and the fine-art community as complementary, but I think it is important to recognize there are important differences.
Portrait of Schalliol by Kara Elliott-Ortega, '10.

See Schalliol’s work on display at the Catherine Edelman Gallery, 300 West Superior Street. The opening reception is tonight from 5-8 p.m. Visit edelmangallery.com or call 312/266-2350 for more information.

July 10, 2009