About the Photographer
American, b. 1947
For the Changing Chicago documentary project in the late 1980s, Jay Boersma photographed in the city's southern suburbs, concentrating on the area's buildings, signage and other details on the street. Boersma writes, "The specific subjects I photograph are those in transition, generally from some successful commercial use to neglected disuse. The result is an admittedly subjective view of the area a portfolio that romanticizes the mundane while creating a landscape of loss and failure."
One of the largest documentary photography projects ever organized in an American city, Changing Chicago commissioned thirty-three photographers to document life throughout Chicago's diverse urban and suburban neighborhoods. The project was launched in 1987 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the invention of photography and the 50th anniversary of the Farm Security Administration documentary project, which provides its inspirational model. Changing Chicago honors the tradition of the FSA project, but it moved away from its predecessor's ambition of inspiring social change towards the more general goal of providing a nuanced description of the human experience in a particular geographic area. Sponsored by the Focus/Infinity Fund of Chicago, the project was organized with the support of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Chicago Historical Society, and the Chicago Office of Fine Arts, Chicago Public Library Cultural Center. In the spring of 1989 the five institutions mounted concurrent exhibitions devoted to the project.
Boersma completed a BA in photography at Columbia College Chicago (1974) and an MFA in photography at the Rhode Island School of Design (1976). He taught at Governors State University, outside of Chicago, for fifteen years, before leaving teaching in 1996 to work as the creative director for a large entertainment website.