In 1986, at age sixteen, Verene began photographing his family's hometown of Galesburg, Illinois, and has since documented the lives of its people through a factual yet sympathetic lens for over thirty years. In 2009, Verene began video- recording the same characters he had photographed since the late 1980s. Of these videos and photographs, all shown under the blanket title, "Home Movies," the New York Times wrote: “Made with low-budget cameras, it’s a riveting, sad and sometimes comical series of short, documentary portraits of poor, white working- class people getting by...”. There has always been something intensely unguarded and personal about Chris Verene’s work, as though we have been let farther inside these lives than is altogether comfortable. His new videos take this empathetic intensity to a new level, revealing hard realities with supportive tenderness, making the unfathomable abstractions of widespread economic meltdown very specific and tangible; lives that were already at risk in more ways than one have been toppled over. Verene’s art lies in gently telling us these layered stories, allowing us to feel all the conflicted emotions that come from fighting through such tough situations as though we were living them ourselves.
Born in Galesburg, he went to high school and college in Atlanta. Verene is an accomplished musician, recording and touring with artists such as The Indigo Girls, The Rock*A*Teens, and Ani Cordero. Verene also works under the pseudonym Cheri Nevers, a performative alter-ego who takes glamorous photographs of ordinary people as part of a “Self-Esteem Salon.” Artnet wrote “These elements of Verene’s practice give his down-home photographs a distinctly avant-garde dimension. ...takes its peculiarities from the native undercurrents of the U.S. heartland.”
Verene’s documentary photographs are in major museum collections including The Whitney, The Met, The Jewish Museum, The Walker Art Center, The LA MOCA, The SF MoMA, The J. Paul Getty Museum.
"Postcards from a Pandemic" is brought to you by Marcia Wood Gallery in the hopes of keeping people connected to the transformative and hopeful power of art and the importance of artists' work during the Covid19 Pandemic.