"Our Work: Modern Jobs – Ancient Origins" exhibit at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago

“Our Work: Modern Jobs – Ancient Origins,” an exhibition of photographic portraits at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, explores how cultural achievements of the ancient Middle East have created or contributed to much of modern life. To show the connections between the past and today, artifacts that document the origins or development of professions such as baker, farmer, manicurist, brewer, writer, astronomer, or judge in the ancient world are paired with a person who is the modern “face” of that profession. The resulting 24 photographic portraits represent the diversity of Chicago residents, ranging from ordinary workers to local luminaries. The portraits are accompanied by commentary on the specific contribution of the past and remarks from the modern representative, resulting in fascinating new insights into how members of the public view their relationship to the past.

The photographer for the project is Jason Reblando, whose work is in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Union League Club of Chicago, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. To visually connect the present with the past, he produced tintype portraits using a 19th century photographic process. Reblando worked with Chicago arts journalist Matthew Cunningham who documented the sessions with interviews of five of the subjects, the resulting videos forming a multi-media component to the exhibition.

This exhibit is supported by Kitty Picken, the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation, John B. Simon, Norman and Virginia Bobins on behalf of the Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation, and members of the Oriental Institute.

The exhibit is curated by Jack Green and Emily Teeter.

The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, 55 East 58th Street, Chicago.

Suggested donation: adults, $10; 12 and under, $5.

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