UChicago Medicine photo exhibit documents life in Washington Park in summer of 1987

Rose Blouin

Every weekend in the summer of 1987, with camera in tow, photographer Rose Blouin visited Washington Park on Chicago’s South Side. There, she documented moments of everyday recreation — a man tending to his grill along the water, children enjoying the “Adventure Land” play area, parents embracing their children — as well as special, historic and community events like weddings and the Bud Billiken Parade.

In total, Blouin took nearly 3,000 black-and-white photographs of Washington Park and the people and activities that brought it to life.

A curated selection of these photographs is now on display at the University of Chicago Medicine as part of the medical center’s Healing Arts program, which shares fine arts and music with patients, visitors, staff and the surrounding community. Running through July 28, the exhibit is located on the bridge between the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine (DCAM) and the Center for Care and Discovery (CCD).

Blouin processed the Washington Park film decades ago, but never exhibited them.

“I put them away because life goes on. I had two young kids, I was a single parent, and I worked full time,” said Blouin, who is a retired professor of English from Columbia College Chicago. “While I never really had a chance to get back to that project, it always stayed in my heart.”

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This story was first published by UChicago Medicine. 

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