Silver Eye photo exhibit offers many angles on Carrie Furnaces

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In the heyday of steel manufacturing, more than 1,000 tons of iron came out of the Carrie Furnaces every day. Today, the structures are at the heart of a photography exhibit, "Carrie Furnaces: Contemporary Views," at Silver Eye Center for Photography on the South Side.

"There's a fascination in this society with our industrial ruins and the changes that take place over time with them," said Ronald Baraff, the director of Museum Collections & Archives at Rivers of Steel, which administers the Carrie Furnaces in Rankin.

"I think, as we move away from the industrial past, we are trying really hard to embrace it," he added. "There are so few historical footprints left that show the industrial might and majesty of this country. ... As they are receding and being torn down, people gravitate toward them."

The exhibit

  • Where:

    Silver Eye Center for Photography, 1015 E. Carson St., South Side

  • When:

    Through Aug. 24. Noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday

  • Opening reception:

    6 to 8 p.m., today; free.

  • Discussion:

    Ron Baraff will discuss the history and legacy of the Carrie Furnaces from 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 22. Program is free but RSVP is required:

    Information: 412-431-1810 or

The exhibit consists of 51 photographs from 32 artists chosen from among 332 photographs submitted during an open call for entries. The photographs are both analog and digital.

Mr. Baraff joined Jen Rokoski, the education coordinator at Silver Eye, and Lori Hepner, an associate professor of Integrative Arts at Penn State University, in choosing the photographs and curating the exhibit.

Mr. Baraff, who has seen and taken countless photographs of the furnaces in his 15 years of working with the site, said he was looking for something other than a documentary photograph, for "folks that can show the character of the site, the nuances of the site, the texture, the things that people might not see otherwise."

He added, "It is a National Historic Landmark, and that must always be remembered -- front and center -- but it is also a dynamic, changing, very organic site."

In choosing the photographs, the decisions were based solely on the photographic integrity of the images, not the backgrounds of the artists. Silver Eye membership and marketing director Juliana Zipay said this means the show is an opportunity for artists who may not otherwise have the chance to showcase their work.

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Maggie Neil:


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