In this Meet the Author event, photographer Lee Bey and artist Amanda Williams discuss Bey's latest book, Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago's South Side.
Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side is the first book devoted to the South Side’s rich and unfairly ignored architectural heritage. With lively, insightful text and gallery-quality color photographs by noted Chicago architecture expert Lee Bey, Southern Exposure documents the remarkable and largely unsung architecture of the South Side. The book features an array of landmarks—from a Space Age dry cleaner to a nineteenth-century lagoon that meanders down the middle of a working-class neighborhood street—that are largely absent from arts discourse, in no small part because they sit in a predominantly African American and Latino section of town that’s better known as a place of disinvestment, abandonment, and violence.
Inspired by Bey’s 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition, Southern Exposure visits sixty sites, including lesser-known but important work by luminaries such as Jeanne Gang, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Eero Saarinen, as well as buildings by pioneering black architects such as Walter T. Bailey, John Moutoussamy, and Roger Margerum. Pushing against the popular narrative that depicts Chicago’s South Side as an architectural wasteland, Bey shows beautiful and intact buildings and neighborhoods that reflect the value—and potential—of the area. Southern Exposure offers much to delight architecture aficionados and writers, native Chicagoans and guests to the city alike.
Bey's work overlaps with Williams' creative practice in that she draws attention to the complexities of race, place, and value in cities. The landscapes in which she operates are the visual residue of the invisible policies and forces that have misshapen most inner cities. Williams’ installations, paintings, and works on paper seek to inspire new ways of looking at the familiar and in the process, raise questions about the state of urban space and citizenship in America. Amanda has exhibited widely, including the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, a solo exhibition at MCA Chicago, and a public project with the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in Saint Louis. She is a a 2018 USA Ford Fellow, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors grantee, an Efroymson Family Arts Fellow, a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and a member of the multidisciplinary Museum Design team for the Obama Presidential Center.
Lee Bey is an architectural critic, photographer, and writer. His work documents and interprets built environments and the political, social and racial forces that shape spaces and places.
Amanda Williams is a visual artist who trained as an architect. Her creative practice navigates the space between art and architecture, through works that employ color as a way to highlight the political complexities of race, place, and value in cities. Williams has received critical acclaim including being named a USA Ford Fellow and a Joan Mitchell Foundation grantee. Her works have been exhibited widely and are included in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
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