Jin Lee

Jin Lee is a Chicago-based photographer whose project centers on forming a deeper relationship to places through close examination of their landscapes. She has received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the Illinois Arts Council grant, and has had solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago Cultural Center, and Sioux City Art Center.  Her works are included in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Madison Art Center, and Museum of Contemporary Photography.  She is currently a Professor of Art at Illinois State University and is represented by Devening Projects gallery in Chicago.

Train View (Winter field)

Train View (Six Houses)

Train View (Passenger 1)

Train View

“Train View” is a collection of photographs made during my weekly 2-hour Amtrak commutes between Chicago and Central Illinois where I teach. Made between January 2014 and May 2016, the series is a partial snapshot of middle America leading up to the November 2016 presidential election, revealing scenes and moments that are alternatively beautiful, bleak, and poignant.

The photographs record the beauty of the Midwest landscape, its openness in ever-shifting lights, seasons, and weather, as well as the ways in which people use, develop and inhabit the land, and what has been built into it. The views out of the train window include rivers, bridges, highways, housing developments, junkyards, graffiti, self-storage units, billboards, oil refinery, grain silos, wind farms, cemeteries, an old prison tower, and the limestone quarry where the prisoners once worked. They are elevated and constantly shifting back views of in-between spaces, not accessible from the streets or highways. The series also includes scenes inside the train – other passengers, streaked windows, and books read during the journey, alternating between outside and inside worlds.

Made from the rhythm and cycles of work and commuting schedule, “Train View” links disparate moments and subject matters to explore multiple sense of time as well as the way speed and movement of the train create dynamic perceptions of the landscapes. By paying attention and photographing certain things over and over again, my goal is to make pictures that are precise and accurate in the tradition of documentary photographs, but at the same time create a parallel dream-like world of images of complex moods. This project aims to contribute to photography’s rich history in revealing and understanding the changing American social and natural landscapes.

Train View (Tree with trash)

Train View (Exxon refinery)

Train View (Pedestrian 1)

Train View (Pond)

Train View (Joliet penitentiary tower)

Train View (Reading)

Train View (Wind farm)

Train View (Self storage)

Train View (Smoke and sun)

Train View (Billboard back view)

Train View (Night flag)

Train View (Pedestrian 2)

Train View (Window with raindrops)

Train View (Phone call)

Train View (Winter cemetary)

Train View (Trees in water)

Train View (Evening sky)

To view more of Jin Lee’s work please visit their website.