World of Echo

Yesterday I worked at the Northern Illinois University MFA studios, known as the Annex, with Charles Newton. I photographed Charlie working in his second floor studio, which is the second space he’s been assigned since starting the program. His original studio in the basement along with the majority of basement studios were cordoned off from general use and storage. The entire building is in a deteriorating state with no foreseeable means of improving health and safety conditions.

Charlie’s basement studio, Charlie’s Head

A term stated in the Annex studio rental contract tasked any outgoing graduate to reset their space by re-painting the walls white and removing any items not owned by the university. Sometimes the contract was honored. More often the spaces were left unattended or the coats of paint meant to reset the spaces were too sheer. Evidence of old projects underneath resurfaced as the same prismatic clutter.

My second-floor studio space at the Annex from 2015. I spackled then blasted it white because I couldn’t handle the mess.

I revisited the basement studios while I was at the Annex to see how the spaces came to rest after decades of use by hundreds of different artists working in a wide range of media. Shades of white and cream syncopated with a smatter of molds and color bursts and overpainted frames left on the walls. A visual consonance surfaced as I walked through the corridor on my way out.