April 5, 2012 - April 29, 2012
Queen of Heaven
Photographer John Faier first stepped into a community mausoleum while visiting a Catholic cemetery on the west side of Chicago. Queen of Heaven Indoor Mausoleum was built between 1956 and 1964 by the Archdiocese of Chicago and contains 30,000 individual crypts. Surrounded by the pervasive scent of embalming fluid, Faier found the vast complex simultaneously beautiful and grotesque, and a time-capsule for all things mid-century. He subsequently embarked on a four-year project of photographing several similar mausoleums from the same time period. Faier composed all of his vivid color images in-camera without digital manipulation using a large-format camera and a digital back.
“I am drawn to subjects in our contemporary society that are beautiful, absurd, and dark. And, although I am extremely interested in hyper-realism as a photographic effect, I want my photographs to place our various notions of what is artificial or natural into question. I am interested in exploring themes relating to the surreal and kitsch and typically use formal compositional techniques to place the viewer at a distance from the subject. ‘Queen of Heaven’ allows us to contemplate our own struggles, loneliness, and mortality as filtered through the lens of the camera.”
John Faier, who learned photography in a makeshift darkroom at the age of 12, studied at Northwestern University, earning a double-major BA in economics and art theory and practice and an MA in journalism. Faier’s work was twice a finalist for Photolucida’s Critical Mass: “Queen of Heaven” in 2010 and “Riverview” in 2011. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, Douglas Dawson Gallery, Chicago Botanic Gardens, Illinois Wesleyan University Merwin and Wakeley Galleries, and can be found in the permanent holdings of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Northwestern University, and the Bank of America LaSalle Collection. Faier currently lives and works as a freelance photographer in Chicago, and is working on a project documenting the working-class region of Gary, Indiana. A book of “Queen of Heaven” is forthcoming in 2012.
John Faier will present a free artist talk on “Queen of Heaven” at Blue Sky on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 2:00 PM.