Lily Mayfield + Jesse Ruff

Storefront Portrait
archival inkjet print with audio
20 x 30 in.

Saw Crew
archival inkjet print with audio
24 x 30 in.

Situated just a few miles west of downtown Chicago, the Westside is an area of great extremes. The area is more notorious for crime and poverty than known for its deep Jewish, African-American and Latino heritage. As a Westside resident, I have a divergent perspective of the neighborhoods that make up this somewhat forlorn, and rarely visited area of Chicago.

In 2007, the Westside area was bursting with the promise of new development and growth. With the economic downturn, the communities of the Westside have been hit hard; new developments came to a halt. However, residents of the area are accustomed to struggle and strife. On 26th Street in Little Village, locally owned businesses are surviving with the support of the community, despite the few vacant storefronts that dot the landscape like drowsy eyes. My photographs depict the traces of care and neglect in the Westside landscape and the rich culture that exists in these communities.

This particular manifestation of the project is a collaborative effort with my husband, Jesse Ruff. By recording ambient sounds from the neighborhood, Ruff creates Musique concrete – a process in which traditional instruments are replaced with recorded sounds. Through combining audio and visual art inspired by the Westside, we hope to present a multi-sensory experience akin to walking through the neighborhoods of Lawndale and Little Village, and to encourage an extended study of the subject.

© Lily Mayfield and Jesse Ruff