Leah Missbach Day

(b.1958; resides Chicago, IL)

Leah Missbach Day is drawn to the myriad of transitions teenagers must negotiate. Starting with a graduate school project on the street kids in her Wicker Park neighborhood, she has gone on to photograph the nieces and nephews of friends, teenagers at Great America, and students of her home-town high school in Summit (Argo Community High School). Since 1997 she has been volunteering as a counselor at a week-long Unitarian summer camp in Lake Geneva (for years prior she was a camper there), and while there she also photographs. Summer Camp: a special night at Burt Lodge documents campers preparing for the camp’s traditional, if not officially sanctioned, “Slut Night.” Trying on new identities with each outfit, the youths begin to adopt adult roles through grooming and posturing. Some manifest their eagerness in this exploration by pushing the boundaries of acceptable dress, while others prefer to bear a close and careful witness of these displays.

Born in La Grange and raised in Bedford Park, Missbach Day graduated with a degree in product design and advertising from Southern Illinois University in 1979. She earned her MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago in 1998, where she has been a professor of photography since 1999. From 1995 to 2000 she was a Chicago Social Magazine columnist, and since 1995 she worked as a freelance photographer. Her photographs have been exhibited in New York at D2 Gallery; in Damascus, Syria at the International Women’s Arts Festival, Khan Asad Bacha Library, and American Cultural Center; and in Chicago at the Chicago Historical Society, Gallery 312, City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower, Museum of Science and Industry, Terra Museum of American Art, and as part of the Chicago Cultural Center’s widely-traveled exhibition Chicago in the Year 2000. Her work is also in the Refco Collection and the LaSalle Bank Collection.