Urban decay has never looked more colorful and stately than seen through the lens of three Oak Park photographers, creators of TRESPASS: Exploring Urban Decay, now on display in the Main Library Art Gallery.
Kari Neuliep, Bryan Northup and Jerry Olejniczak have tread inside abandoned theatres, factories, former sacred spaces and family dwellings, to capture a beauty rarely seen – a once vibrant building returning to nature. Their artist statement notes: "Sitting in relatively affluent Chicago, it is easy to forget we are surrounded by the rust belt which is our heritage and cultural inheritance. The vast rusting hulks of industry which dot our landscape are returning to nature. In her embrace, they are to us as the Tetons were to Ansel Adams or the sea to artist Caspar David Friedrich."
"The old and abandoned are rarely seen as they are, but usually hidden in forgotten or 'bad' parts of town. But decay can be beautiful," writes Jerry Olejniczak. He has been pursuing photography for about a decade, currently using a Nikon D3000 and assorted lenses. He resides in Oak Park with his wife, of whom he is secretly very fond, as well as two cats which he tolerates admirably.
Adds Kari Neuliep, "Exploring these places involves risks tmost people are not comfortable with, but in them, there is a sense of completeness the world we choose to live in lacks. This is why I explore." Neulip is a self-taught photographer wielding a Canon 60D. She currently lives in Oak Park with her cats and dog and a healthy sense of adventure and curiosity.
Bryan Northup escapes his beloved home, family and glass studio in Oak Park on rare occasions to photograph with good friends, explore and find adventure where he has no place being. "Where else can one encounter such portals of time travel, layered beauty of decades of decay?" Northup asks.
Gallery visitors are invited to trespass inside various decaying and abandoned structures to view the many amazing and forgotten details that still reside there. This unique exhibit will be on display through July 30. Come meet these talented photographers at a reception on Sunday, July 6, from 3 to 5 pm in the Main Library Art Gallery, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park.
By Debby Preiser, Community Coordinator, Oak Park Public Library