(American, b. 1955; resides in Chicago, IL)
Strong Futures is an organization that works to find employement for people affected by gun violence in underserved areas and is led by the activist priest, Father Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina church in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood of Chicago. David Obermeyer began this series of images documenting the stories of those in the Strong Futures program after working as the Production Sound Mixer on Spike Lee’s film, Chiraq, where he met Father Pfleger. Obermeyer became inspired by the work Pfleger has been doing for over 35 years to combat violence and to bring awareness to the systemic neglect in the South and West sides of the city. The artist began creating these images to, in his own words, “expose an invisible part of our city, the part that through racism and neglect remain unseen and forgotten.” However, rather than portraying hardship, Obermeyer’s portraits show empowered individuals, communities, and families taking control of the image and their own circumstances.
In another series called Veiled Landscapes, Oberweyer represents fog-covered industrial sites as a metaphor, of sorts, for places that have transformed over time. The artist is particularly drawn to cities that have undergone several forms of economic and social decline over many decades. Obermeyer presents a view of urban landscapes that is at once melancholic and serene. Like his works portraying the Strong Futures program, the images suggest a perseverance in the face of despondency.
David Obermeyer completed a BS in Speech (1978) and an MFA in Film (1980) from Northwestern University. His work has been included in exhibitions at the Center For Fine Art Photography, Ft. Collins, CO (2018, 2016) and Filter Photo Gallery (2020), among many others. He has been working as a Production Sound Mixer on films since 1980.