The Calumet Region: An American Place presents a series of black and white images by an insightful observer of Northwest Indiana's industrial/residential landscape. A professional architectural photographer, established fine artist, educator, and historian, Gary Cialdella found himself drawn to the region of his youth for a photographic exploration that has lasted more than twenty years and that has resulted in hundreds of rich and complex works. Nearly one hundred of those images appear in this book, reflecting the artist's sensitive, sustained vision and the changes the region has experienced through economic shifts and the general effects of time. Cialdella's Calumet pictures thoroughly examine this heavily industrialized area extending from south of Chicago to the northwest corner of Indiana, an area of the United States that is often overlooked but is vitally important to the country's history. Steel mills, tank farms, and refineries coexist with neighbourhood houses in the artist's beautifully composed pieces, which please the eye with their full tonal range and crisp focus.
Cialdella himself provides descriptions and explanations of his working methods, sources of inspiration, and life experiences to add even greater richness to his images. Essays by Gregg Hertzlieb and John Ruff reflect on Cialdella's work as a definitive photographic treatment of the region's landscape. These images offer an unforgettable portrait of a place that impresses with its strength and that moves us with the poignancy of its struggle. Renowned photographer Larry Fink says that Cialdella "brings his soft painterly eye into the politics of a sort of morality and provokes you to think beyond the forest, through the trees, into the banal and the oblique essence of decay."
Gary Cialdella is a photographer working in the social landscape tradition. His work has been represented in the Museum of Contemporary Photography's Midwest Photographers Archive and is included in many corporate and private collections, such as the LaSalle Bank Photography Collection, the Pfizer Corporation Collection, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and the Brauer Museum of Art. Gregg Hertzlieb is the director/curator of the Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. John Ruff is an associate professor of English and director of the Valpo Core at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.