“Evanston Seen:” Creating a Visual Map of Meaning

Presented by the Evanston History Center and the Evanston Public Library

A community photo project

Maps can help tell us where we are and help us determine where we are going. Most maps reveal intersections and streets; highways and buildings. Let’s create a new kind of map of Evanston. This one will locate people in terms of how they relate to the city; what they see when they look at it, what they dream of, hope for, remember. This map will be like other maps in that, perhaps, when each image comes together in relation to the other, it can help us determine where we are going.

Do you want to take part in creating this new kind of map of our community? It’s easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Ask yourself: What do you see when you look at Evanston?
  2. Take a picture of a place, vista, site, room, building, person, detail, –anything– in Evanston that has specific meaning to you and says something about your relationship to Evanston. This could mean taking a picture of a place that has a special meaning, something that captures an idea about the city, or something that suggests a vision for the future. It’s up to you to decide how you see Evanston!
  3. Write a paragraph about why this particular picture is meaningful to you.
  4. Send your photo and paragraph to Jenny Thompson, Director of Education, EHC, at jthompson@evanstonhistorycenter.org.

This project is inspired by the powerful work of photographer Jeanine Michna-Bales, whose images are now on display at the Evanston History Center and the Evanston Art Center in the exhibit, “Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad.” Michna-Bales uses photography to reveal to viewers the meanings that are inherent in the landscape. Her images provoke thought, stir reflection, and prove that seeing is a powerful way to uncover meaning and connect people.

Submissions will be displayed in an online gallery. Individual images may also be shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If enough people take part in the project, the Evanston History Center and Evanston Public Library will host a reception to share the images and talk about their meanings. You do not give up your copyright to your image by submitting one, but you do agree to allow us to post and display it along with your description. Stay tuned for more details as this project evolves. Questions? email: jthompson@evanstonhistorycenter.org

There is no deadline.

Thanks to the Evanston Public Library for co-sponsoring this project!

Submission from Jenny Thompson

I took this on the grounds of the Dawes House. It was the end of a long day. I stopped for a moment and looked out on this vista and saw how lush and green everything was. It was peaceful and the only sounds that afternoon were the chirping of the birds. It was a moment that reminded me to stop and look ahead, to take a breath and see the beauty in front of me. Something shifted a little that day and I remember it was a remarkable moment in a beautiful, quiet part of Evanston near Lake Michigan. That moment reflected something I love about Evanston: its natural beauty and places of solitude.