“Available Light,” photographs by Andrew Steiner

An exhibition of new photographs by Andrew Steiner is at Eat Paint Studio from November 12 through December 11, 2021. Beginning at the start of Chicago’s shut-down in March 2020, the black and white prints on view are both a personal documentation of the past two years and an outward search for meaning and beauty. An opening reception will be held on Friday, November 12, from 6-9PM.

When do I see a photograph, when a reflection?

― Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly
“Man walking, Argyle Ave, Uptown, Chicago, ” 13×19” archival inkjet print, © 2021 Andrew Steiner

Images of subway stations and streets empty of rush-hour traffic, a city without people, recall the disbelieving sense of uncertainty felt collectively as the cogs of modern life seemed to grind to a halt. Considered an essential worker, Steiner continued to travel between his Uptown apartment and downtown job on a daily basis. His portraits of neighbors and local businesses during this early time are intimate and compelling; a gaze signals connection, rather than mistrust. 

strangers on a train
Strangers on a train, archival inkjet print, © 2021 Andrew Steiner

As travel bans were lifted, Steiner was able to take a trip to Mexico which inspired a fresh visual narrative.

Jarabe Tapatío Dancers, Monterrey, Mexico,”  24×36” archival inkjet print, © 2021 Andrew Steiner

In “Jarabe Tapatío Dancers, Monterrey, Mexico,” the viewer is transported to another place and time. A courtship dance, photographed against the baroque Spanish architecture of the Palacio del Obispado, represents the woman first rejecting the man’s advances, then eventually accepting them (ah, true love). An expanse of aged stone steps flanked by two black clad figures lead us up toward a swirling costumed dancer framed by white stone columns. The black void of an arched doorway and empty windows pull at our gaze while the suited male dancers anchor us in the frame, creating a space for the coquettish female character to show her desire to be free, while also charming her captors.

“It’s like a song,” says Steiner of how he composes an image. “The elements all have to come together – available light, a look or gesture. It coalesces into something else, suggesting a different meaning. That depth of looking – is subversive because it makes us think.”

About Andrew Steiner

A self-taught documentary photographer based in Chicago, Andrew Steiner’s work makes use of dynamic compositions and a background in film photography in his spontaneous street scenes and portraiture. Andrew’s clients include The Gene Siskel Film Center, Crain’s Communications, and The Jane Goodall Institute. Mr. Steiner’s work has been published in burn Magazine, PDN News Online, Commonweal magazine and other online journals.



“Available Light: Photographs by Andrew Steiner” exhibited at Eat Paint Studio through Nov – Dec 2021.