Urban exploration photography is the term Eric Holubow uses to describe his work.
In particular, he has found a haunting beauty in the ruins of once-grand architectural spaces in industrial centers like Detroit, Cleveland and his native Chicago.
His current exhibit, In Decay – Stitching America's Ruins, offers a chance to view immaculately printed, large-scale examples of this work. It will be on display at the Chicago Cultural Center through July 9.
Eric took some time this week to go Behind The Lens with PhotoArtsChicago.com.
The way in which I choose to project a space depends on the intrinsic character of these buildings. Some places are grand and wide-open and I choose a focal length and capture methods that’s all encompassing. Others are, as you suggested, more intimate, and therefore require a closer, tighter crop or focal length to properly evoke such a mood.
Having grown up in Chicago, I had been surrounded by these types of buildings my whole life, and cautiously explored them as a youth. I began bringing my camera about 10 years ago in an effort to capture the feelings these spaces evoke within me.
Your current exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center includes images of decaying buildings from several different cities. What was your criteria in selecting locations?
For my show In Decay – Stitching America’s Ruins I strived to show a range of cities and types of locations all throughout the country in an effort to express the unbiased and widespread nature of abandonment. Beautiful buildings of all sorts are forgotten in the rust belt of the Midwest as prevalently as they are on the East coast or the South.
It was extremely important for me to include these descriptions with my work. Without background on what these places were, or their cultural/historical significance, then only half the story will be told. For all the work that I sell I include these stories, since I consider the two so interrelated for creating a broader narrative.
I create photo mosaics by stitching together several images to create super-format prints that extend beyond the technical limitations of a single 35 mm image.
You're one of the photographers featured in the Chicago Project at the Catherine Edelman Gallery. What kind of effect has that had on your art and your career?
I think participating in the Chicago Project legitimized my work and the genre. Working with Catherine and her gallery has taught me a lot about how to engage with other galleries and about the business end of the craft. It was also valuable for encouraging me to be uncompromising on both ends of my work, not only in the capture and processing, but also in being obsessive on the production and fulfillment side.
You're from Chicago. How has that influenced your photography?
I am very proud of being from Chicago and the strong architectural legacy it has. Sadly, it also has a history of demolishing and discarding wonderful architectural gems it no longer deems useful, such as the works of Louis Sullivan or more recently Michael Reese and Shepherd’s Temple. I think being from Chicago has made me someone who is more aware and perhaps more appreciative of the wonderful buildings that surround us. Also, having grown up near some of the more industrial parts of the city, such as Finkel and Sons Steel facility, has made me naturally more drawn to these sorts of sites that I love exploring.
Official artist site/more images
More stories and artist interviews by Photo Arts Chicago editor Mike Starling
Photo Arts Chicago: Backstory and contact info
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