About the Photographer
Romer, Helene Smith
American, b. 1948
Helene Smith Romer frequently works in the media of collage and photographic books. The artist book Conversations with Elmer records Smith Romer's sporadic interviews with the elderly man of the title, whom she first met outside of the hotel where he lived. On white, unbound pages, Romer pairs typewritten text—typically excerpts of their conversations—with 14 gelatin silver prints of Elmer during their meetings at a local coffee shop or his apartment. Together they provide a multi-faceted portrait in which the photographs capture the man's gestures–whether waving his hands as he speaks or smoking a cigarette–while the text provides a measure of insight into his personality, daily concerns, and his manner of expression. On certain pages, Romer diverges from a direct transciption of his speech to provide her own observations, effectively blending her own voice with his and providing a different perspective.
Smith-Romer has studied at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and holds a BA from Columbia College Chicago (1984) and an MFA from The University of Illinois, Chicago (1990).