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The Doederlein Gallery


Terry Duchow

ROOM FOR THE IMAGINATION: Architectural Photo Collages


October 23 - December 4, 2016


Hover to view title.  Click to view larger image. A link to a description of the collage will appear with the enlarged image.



Room for the Imagination: Artist's Statement




These pictures are part of a project a friend and I are doing on Chicago churches, so the strategy in taking these pictures is less about space but rather more about the history of church buildings and the communities they were and are a part of.  We are interested in, among many other things, how cultural practices can persist over time even when a congregation changes, and what makes a congregation a sustainable social presence, even as neighborhoods change.


My thoughts about church buildings in general are that Christian churches all have a special relationship to history because they are all there because of events that the Church believes happened.  They are also culturally specific visions of what those events meant to their creators, living at a certain time and place.  It will be interesting to find out more about how these visions were realized in Chicago and how they have played out over time.


Back in the early 2000’s, Jennifer Fortney, a lay leader of the young adult ministry at Saint Luke at the time, introduced me to the idea of sacred space in the home.   The idea has slowly sunk in with me over time, until the Le Corbusier collage with the Isenheim altarpiece defined a sacred space in my own home. Together they represent the concept for the installations and the geometric module that this show is based on.


The collages installed here depict the Seven Songs of the Church. They were shown at an exhibit the Saint Luke Artist’s Guild put on in early 2016, here with some photos added.


It is a high calling for any artist to build an altarpiece.  When we truly realize what we’ve been given, we can get out of the way. That we are given the hands and the materials to do something like build an altar is a humbling thought.  So, I will dare to call it one.


You will find the text of each of the seven songs near the installation. The words or phrases that provided operative imagery are in bold. The collages are inspired by the building upstairs from the gallery, Saint Luke Lutheran Church, designed in 1960 by Harold Stahl. 


The intent of the installation is to create one image from them all. To give the collages some context, I added some tiling and window leading taken from pictures I took and ghosted them into the background to provide visual relief. The middle image of the installation, Dimittis, is of the Christus figure at the back of the church.  As far as I know, it is based on Revelation 1:18:


“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”


While it is easy to look at the keys of hell and death as relating to doom and gloom, the text refers to the Christian belief that God has taken on

death and dealt with it, and lives still. Situated at the back of the church, it reminds the visitor as they leave that death is not the end of humanity. Love is the last word.


Thanks to the Doederlein Gallery and Saint Luke Church for installing the Room for the Imagination in Fall 2016 in the gallery and for website support.

All of these works were done for a receptive and supportive community there.

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