I’ve been fond of Chicago, Illinois, for a long time. One of my dearest friends from the film school days, Nick Rufca, is from around there. In 2011, I was invited to screen the Moving Postcard web series as part of a group art show at the S3 Gallery. (You can watch a 1-minute video about that experience HERE.) Scott and I spent a lovely weekend there in 2006, after filming in Illinois for our documentary All God’s Children. But the trip this week is what will seal this city in my heart forever as one of my very special happy places.
My father, Günter Westphal, a social artist and photographer from Hamburg, Germany, was nominated and then selected for a month-long art residency; and I got to join him for his first few days in the Windy City. It was absolutely amazing!
Sharing one of my favorite activities (exploring a new place with my camera and someone I love) with my dad brought me ultimate and long-lasting happiness. As neither of us could stop gushing about all that we saw and pointing our camera almost obsessively (and often at the same subjects), I knew more than ever that I’m my father’s daughter.
Helping him navigate the city and American culture and language, I felt so grateful for the privilege of supporting my awesome dad. Tagging along to events where we met other fascinating artists, people from the Goethe Institute and even the German consul to 13 US states, I was overwhelmed with pride of my dad and his curiosity, thoughtfulness, social and creative work and his courage.
On a side note, I also was delirious with the buzz of being back in a real city – with all its inspiration, energy, interesting people and conversations and the opportunity to shoot lots and lots of photos and videos.
If you’re in Chicago, my father will give a presentation about his social art work on Saturday, November 22, at 5pm at the Experimental Station (6100 South Blackstone Ave – experimentalstation.org). Scott and I will be there as well… and maybe even Whiskey…
In this video, you can see the West Loop neighborhood, where my dad is staying, some street art, the L train looping through downtown Chicago (Loop neighborhood), my dad posing for photos in his Münzviertel shirt (the Hamburg neighborhood where he does most of his social art work) at the Randolph/Wabash train station, the Cloud Gate (if you look closely, you can see us hugging in the reflection) and a few more shots from that corner of Chicago.
Special thanks to Rebecca Beechy, a social and visual artist in Chicago, who was one of the two artists chosen for the Hamburg portion of the Chicago-Hamburg artist exchange last year, and who has been such a great host to both my dad and myself.
And now please check out the first few photos my dad has published from his time in Chicago on the Münzviertel Blog HERE.