By Katarina Hybenova
A week before Christmas of 1981, a teaching position opened at Roland Hayes Intermediate School 291. Meryl Meisler says she could only imagine what happened to the teacher before her. “Was the other teacher killed?” she asked herself. Another cause of anxiety for Meryl was the New York Blackout that occurred in the summer of 1977, and its disastrous consequences for Bushwick. “After, images of looting and fires in Bushwick were forever burned into my brain,” Meryl says.
Nevertheless, Meryl Meisler accepted the offer and taught in Bushwick from 1981 to 1994, and she says it was never boring. In February 1982, she found the courage to take photos on her way from the subway to school. She used to carry an inexpensive plastic point and shoot pocket camera loaded with cheap transparency film and developed it in the least costly way possible.
30 years later, the neighborhood has made its comeback, and Meryl Meisler’s photographs of Bushwick from the 1980s are invaluable historical material with high aesthetic value added. Hopefully, you had a chance to see the exhibition of Meryl Meisler’s photography at Soho Photo Gallery Here I Am: Bushwick in the 1980s, which ran until December 31, 2011.
Nowadays, Meryl Meisler continues to take photographs of Bushwick. “My goal is to walk and photograph every street in Bushwick. Doesn’t that sound like fun?” We think it definitely does! Furthermore, looking at her old and new photos, Meryl subliminally and overtly sees the connecting detail between the past and the present, and seizes the moment of time.
Drawing the parallels between the old and the new, Meryl creates diptychs. Looking at the diptychs, one is reminded of the change and revival of Bushwick, but simulateously sees that some things (luckily) remain the same….
We are honored to present Meryl Meisler’s emerging series Here I Am: Bushwick Now & Then, and we promise that you will hear more of this remarkable photographer on Bushwick Daily soon.