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Free to See: Vivian Maier Photography At Harold Washington Library

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 1, 2014 7:00PM

When the snowstorms subside and the will-it-or-won’t-it of spring begins, we find we’re often antsy to get out and stretch our legs. We’ve got a suggestion for late next month that’s free of cost and uncovers what was, up until relatively recently, undiscovered work.

On March 29th, the Harold Washington Library will present a collection of the late Vivian Maier’s photography. Maier grew up in France, then began pursuing photography in New York City. But, in the 1950s, Maier moved to Chicago, where she worked as a nanny to support her dream of taking at least a roll of film each day.

Out of those rolls came views of life on street level in Chicago from the 50s through the 70s, including looks at Maxwell Street as it was then, and scenes of 1968’s social turmoil. These images and many, many others went largely unnoticed until 2007, only two years before her death, when they were purchased at a Chicago auction house.

The library will have 55 silver gelatin prints from the book Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows for visitors to see. There will also be a screening of the BBC production regarding her work, The Vivian Maier Mystery, on April 24th at 6 p.m. in the Pritzker auditorium.

Maier may never have gotten the chance to see her work receive the accolades it deserved, but we as a city still have the chance to see the past through her lens. We wholeheartedly recommend taking that chance.