What was Once a Home
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  • Post published:13/05/2021
  • Post last modified:13/05/2021

Landscapes can tell a story about the larger world they inhabit. This series of drawings documents foreclosed homes in the Chicago area, many of which are on Chicago’s far south side. These houses were once cherished beauties, filled with life and warmth. Each shingle, each pane of glass, each baluster, each knob and handle was thoughtfully placed to form a home that was just right. A beacon of the American Dream. And now, these drawings show the houses as they are, as shadows of their former selves. Still standing, as symbols of what they they once were, and the people they once held. They are relics of a culture of inequality, in which the most privileged are enabled and encouraged to live in excess, while the most vulnerable are forced into increasingly desperate situations.

What was Once a Home (South Throop Street), 17" x 25.5", Carbon pencil on toned paper, 2015

What was Once a Home (South Throop Street), 17″ x 25.5″, Carbon pencil on toned paper, 2015

I am not an expert on economics, sociology, or housing. I’ve never envisioned myself as playing a great role in social activism. I have not been directly, personally affected by the foreclosure crisis. I just see a crisis, one where people in power have taken advantage of everyday, hard-working people. And I have chosen the unique language that I’ve developed and kept with me throughout my life, the language of painting and drawing, to dive into and explore this issue.

What was Once a Home (West 70th Place), 8" x 10", Carbon pencil on toned paper, 2014

What was Once a Home (West 70th Place), 8″ x 10″, Carbon pencil on toned paper, 2014

 As I saw these houses, I couldn’t help but feel a strong tug of emotion, and through these works, I’m trying to pass on that emotional tug. I believe each house in all of it’s detail represents an untold story, a struggle, a disappointment, and a drama that deserves to be looked at, thought about, and talked about, and felt.

What was Once a Home (South Carpenter Street), 13" x 24", Carbon pencil on toned paper, 2015

What was Once a Home (South Carpenter Street), 13″ x 24″, Carbon pencil on toned paper, 2015

Image Credits

All Images Are © Jennifer Cronin


Jennifer Cronin Artist Bio

profilepicJennifer Cronin is a Chicago-based artist, born and raised in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she earned a dual BFA in painting and art education. As the capstone of her education, she studied painting at Camberwell College of Art in London, completing her education in 2009. Since graduating, Cronin has become known for combining an uncanny realism with psychological depth to create large paintings that capture extraordinary encounters amidst the backdrop of ordinary, everyday life. Currently, Cronin is working on a series of drawings documenting foreclosed homes in Chicago. These houses, once filled with life and warmth, are shown as striking shadows of their former selves both stark and stunning in their detail and mood.

Cronin has exhibited widely in the Chicago area, as well as nationally and internationally. She has had solo exhibitions at 33 Contemporary Gallery and Elephant Room Gallery, among other galleries. She has been featured in many publications, including New American Paintings, and has earned numerous awards for her work, including Best in Show at the Buchanan Center for the Arts show America: Now and Here juried by Eric Fischl. She continues to work in her studio in Chicago.

Blog / Website: JenniferCronin.com

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