gloria cassens Collection

Dates: Circa 2012 – 2016
Size: 908 photographs, 1 folder
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: N00047
Provenance: Donated by gloria cassens in 2015
Access: Research copies may be made. For any other reproductions, permission must be obtained from the Photographer.
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: gloria cassens Collection, [Photograph #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.
Processed by: Morag Walsh, 2016

Biographical Note

gloria cassens is a photographer and writer who began taking photographs around 2010 with a mobile phone she found on a train. She takes pictures of whatever captures her interest while walking around the streets of Chicago. While her work covers several genres, including architectural photographs and shots of nature, her main focus depicts human conditions, individuals she encounters in her daily wandering. All other photographs she takes are secondary.

Two women have played important roles in gloria cassens’ life – Nancy Vincent and Nancy Stone. Nancy Vincent from the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago took an interest in gloria cassens’ work and originally contacted Special Collections about the collection on her behalf. As gloria cassens says, “I owe Nancy Vincent an unfaltering debt of gratitude for her friendship, kindness and appreciation for me and my photographs.” In 2013, gloria cassens met Chicago Tribune photographer Nancy Stone. A friendship grew and Stone produced a short film, gloria cassens: Street photographer, available on You Tube. In 2015 gloria cassens published another film on You Tube, gloria cassens: Bits and Pieces, where she gave the following artist’s statement about her work:

The streets of Chicago are unforgiving. The majestic buildings that dot Chicago’s shore and grace its city, unforgettable. The weary worn and wary individuals that line, litter and lace Chicago’s streets are my interest. Not with compassion at the forefront but for their photographic beauty, their resolve, resilience and tenacity. Along with the knowing that it takes a lot to hold onto nothing and not everyone has someone they can cry to. I have been snapping photos for the past five years. Monday through Friday I am a supper guest at Catholic Charities where I receive top of the line meals, served by very extraordinary, gracious and caring volunteers. One of these volunteers is the founder of Chicago Help Initiative, Jacqueline Hayes. She does so much more than providing meals. She makes sure each and every supper guest know they matter. I am grateful for all that has been contributed to the easing of bits and pieces of my life’s journey. Snapping photos has been my saving grace. My name is gloria cassens.

gloria cassens’ work has been exhibited at the Catholic Charities’ After Supper Visions and is in several private collections.

Scope and Content

This collection contains 908 prints, mostly 4” x 6” and 3½” x 5,” taken by gloria cassens, between the years 2012 and 2015. Most photographs are color, but there are a few black and white prints. The photographs were taken by cameras on several mobile telephones and with a point-and-shoot Canon digital camera.

Most of these photographs were taken in Chicago’s Loop or Near North Side and feature many of the same people over time. They graphically depict the difficulties that some people, young and old, men and women, experience. Many of these photographs starkly juxtapose struggling people with hopeful, sometimes ironic backgrounds. While gloria cassens’ primary motivation for taking these photographs is the creation of photographic beauty, she has a high regard for her subjects and is respectful of their circumstances.

The collection also contains several artists’ statements created by gloria cassens which accompanied her photo exhibits and some promotional pieces for the same.

Arrangement/Series Description

The collection is arranged sequentially by albums that were composed and donated by gloria cassens. The photographs have been removed from the albums but their order has been maintained. The prefix denotes in which album the photograph originally appeared. For example, photographs with the number 1.1 or 1.2 came from the first album and photographs numbered 2.1 and 2.2 are from the second. An “a” or “b” following the number indicates that it was tucked into the same display pocket in the album. For example, photographs 1.5a, 1.5b, 1.5c, 1.5d and 1.5e were all inside the same display pocket with 1.5a showing on top, and the others concealed behind. The photographer purposely arranged these albums creating a narrative of sorts. This original order has been preserved by the archivist. Some photographs appear in several places depending on the photographer’s arrangement.

Box 1 Artist’s statements, circa 2013 - 2016
Boxes 2-3 Album # 1, circa 2012 – 2015, 195 photographs
Album # 2, circa 2012 – 2015, 228 photographs
Album # 3, circa 2012 – 2015, 245 photographs
Album # 4, circa 2012 – 2015, 185 photographs
Album # 5, circa 2012 – 2015, 55 photographs

Subject Headings

  • cassens, gloria — Archives.
  • Homeless Women — Illinois — Chicago — Photographs.
  • Homeless Men — Illinois — Chicago — Photographs.
  • Older Homeless Persons — Illinois — Chicago — Photographs.
  • Alcoholism — Illinois — Chicago — Photographs.
  • Substance Abuse — Illinois — Chicago — Photographs.
  • Mental Illness — Illinois — Chicago — Photographs.
  • Loop (Chicago, Ill.) — Photographs.
  • Portrait Photographs — Illinois — Chicago.
  • Photographs — Illinois — Chicago.

Container List

Box 1 Folder 1 Artist’s statements written to accompany exhibits, circa 2013 - 2016
Box 1 Folder 2 Promotions for exhibit, After Supper Visions, 2013
Box 2 Photographs, 1.1 – 3.99b, circa 2012 – 2015
Box 3 Photographs, 3.100 – 5.42, circa 2012 – 2015

Subject List

This index includes those photographs where location or specific subject matter is indicated or obvious. Note that many photographs do not appear in this index because their subject matter or location are not easily identifiable.

cassens, gloria 3.167b
4.95 (shadow only)
5.1
Chicago Avenue 1.148
Chicago River, Bridge House Museum 4.40a, 4.40b
5.5
CTA, buses, bus stops 1.30, 1.47, 1.114, 1.116
2.6, 2.43b, 2.77, 2.87, 2.102, 2.120, 2.130, 2.149a, 2.149b, 2.150a, 2.150b, 2.174, 2.190, 2.191
3.28, 3.64, 3.83, 3.156, 3.158, 3.182
4.75, 4.101, 4.138
5.3
CTA, trains, elevated, subway 1.32a, 1.32b, 1.34, 1.46, 1.56, 1.62, 1.74a, 1.89a, 1.99a, 1.104b, 1.141, 1.152, 2.43a, 2.69, 2.140, 2.180b
3.43, 3.177, 3.181, 3.202, 3.203
4.9, 4.16, 4.115b, 4.149
5.6a, 5.6b, 5.13, 5.36
Dearborn Street, Daley Plaza, Marc Chagall Mural, Four Seasons 1.5a, 1.5b, 1.5c, 1.5d, 1.137
2.135
3.199
4.24, 4.157
5.41
Diversey Parkway and Clark Street 4.54
Franklin Street 4.68
Lake Shore, Lake Michigan 2.188
Michigan Avenue 2.113a, 2.113b
3.133
5.5
Millennium Park 2.4, 2.26, 2.145
3.40
People holding signs 1.34, 1.50, 1.75, 1.77, 1.78, 1.79, 1.85, 1.89a, 1.89b, 1.115, 1.119a, 1.132, 1.141
2.16, 2.23, 2.28, 2.36, 2.37, 2.44, 2.55, 2.72, 2.73, 2.83, 2.86, 2.94, 2.97, 2.106a, 2.125, 2.136a, 2.136b
3.1, 3.20, 3.33, 3.39a, 3.39b, 3.45, 3.53, 3.80, 3.82c, 3.85, 3.134, 3.154, 3.157, 3.162
4.9, 4.12, 4.21, 4.27, 4.43, 4.55, 4.57a, 4.57b, 4.96, 4.99, 4.100, 4.102, 4.105, 4.106, 4.147, 4.151, 4.155
5.5
Pritzker Park, Harold Washington Library Center (State Street) 1.90, 1.102, 1.135, 1.138a, 1.138b
2.17, 2.20, 2.148
3.18, 3.46a, 3.46b, 3.106, 3.178, 3.201
4.19, 4.119
5.14, 5.25
Randolph Street 1.80
St. Clair Street, Streeterville 3.12
St. Stanislaus Kostka, Noble Street 4.103
State Street 1.1, 1.27b, 1.46, 1.56, 1.62, 1.74a, 1.74b, 1.75, 1.76, 1.80, 1.89a, 1.89b, 1.90, 1.102, 1.122, 1.128a, 1.128b, 1.128c, 1.129, 1.131c, 1.135, 1.136, 1.136, 1.138a, 1.138b, 1.140, 1.141, 1.152
2.1, 2.10, 2.14, 2.17, 2.20, 2.28, 2.37, 2.42, 2.43a, 2.43b, 2.67, 2.75, 2.76, 2.143, 2.148
3.1, 3.18, 3.34, 3.41, 3.46a, 3.46b, 3.75a, 3.106, 3.112a, 3.134, 3.201
4.119, 4.132, 4.140a, 4.151
5.6a, 5.6b, 5.14, 5.24, 5.25, 5.40, 5.42
Stone, Nancy, Chicago Tribune photographer 5.1
Union Station 4.36a, 4.36b
Van Buren Street 3.171a
4.46a, 4.46b
Wabash Avenue 1.42
3.164
4.140b
Wacker Drive (Lower) 4.17, 4.18a, 4.18b, 4.18c
Wacker Drive (Upper) 3.120, 3.193
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