A commemorative photographic exhibition in memory of Barbara Susan Stewart-Thomas (1948-2017) will be on display at The Art Box, 308 E. Lincoln Highway in downtown DeKalb, from Aug. 30 through Sept. 27.
Barbara Stewart was born and raised in Detroit. After high school she attended Michigan State University during the tumultuous years of the 1960s and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history. She married Jim Thomas in 1975, moved to DeKalb in 1979, and attended Northern Illinois University, graduating with a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography.
Her interest in photography was environmental portraiture. In 1987, the theme for her MFA final project was to interview and photograph 1960s political activists, which not only encouraged her to travel from coast to coast but to interview people based on other people's recommendations. In 2007, technology became sophisticated enough for her to publish her final project in its original content online in a soft-bound book format titled, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”
The exhibition at The Art Box is mostly based on the contents of Stewart-Thomas’ second soft-bound book titled, “Still/Moving.” In 2007, she continued shooting street scenes in Chicago that she started as a photography student in the 1980s. Between the elevated trains and bus line her “preference photographing on buses and at bus stops extends beyond the light and the view – there is the vibrant life of the street with its kinetic collage of people, architecture and advertising.” In “Still/Moving” there are a couple of street scenes from Cannes, France.
There also will be a few photographs based on Stewart-Thomas’ family, which was very important to her. In her youth she made small books about her maternal family and growing up in a Detroit Jewish community. In 2006, she published a hard-bound book compiling all of the smaller books into one. The last chapter is based on stories of her paternal family. In her final years, she was working on an extended photo-documentary history of her family.
She was the recipient of numerous grants, residencies and awards. Her work was exhibited both in Illinois and nationally. She was an avid reader, and remained passionate about politics up to her final morning.
A reception honoring Barbara Susan Stewart-Thomas is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9.
The Art Box shop and gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; closed Sunday and Wednesday. For more information, contact Daniel Grych at 815-758-0313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.