With one in five residents not having enough to eat—compared to a national average of 15 percent, according to a 2011 study by the Chicago Food Depository—Chicagoans deal with the problem of hunger daily. Photographer Michael Nye captured 52 faces of the issue, and the stories behind them, over the course of four and a half years to create his exhibition About Hunger and Resilience. Thirty-one of his works are showing now at St. James Cathedral through October 30.
Black and white photographs stand against gilded walls from which the faces of hunger stare out, accompanied by audio recordings of their stories. For example, there’s Pepper, a cowboy who hasn’t been able to work since a horse bucked him into a concrete pillar; Matthew, who sometimes walks the grocery store, making shopping lists that will never be crossed off; and Alejandro, whose experience with hunger as a child motivates him as an adult to strive for a better life.
“People sometimes refuse to admit that hunger exists in their communities,” says Erin Edwards, network director of the Northside Anti-Hunger Network. Forty-three photographs from NAHN’s SNAPshots collection, documenting how its clients, volunteers, and employees see their relationship with food, accompany Nye’s work at St. James. John Sattelmaier, chaplain of All Saints’ Episcopal Church—which feeds more than 400 people weekly—says the exhibit has the potential to “awaken” viewers to the need for aid in Chicago.
GO: About Hunger and Resilience, now through October 30, Wednesday–Saturday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.; at St. James Cathedral, 65 East Huron St.; 312-787-7360; saintjamescathedral.org.