Esau McGhee, who lives and works in Chicago, does not see himself as being from there, or anywhere else for that matter. Raised in Philadelphia and a transplant to the Midwest for school, he no longer feels as though he belongs in one place more than the other. And when it comes to his work, the lack of "geographic allegiance" to Chicago, Philadelphia or elsewhere provides a unique perspective on the architecture and social environment of both, and any city besides.
McGhee's work is primarily constructed from found images and photographs of architecture and pattern, which he sorts, cuts, arranges, and affixes in often rough-edged compositions. A corner missing here, a piece sticking out there -- the frame assembled to follow the apparently random outline of the image. By juxtaposing various patterns, textures and images together; by rearranging and therefore re-presenting images and architectural spaces in a puzzle-like fashion, McGhee interprets how he, we, and everyone--hailing from the entire gamut of geographic locations and social backgrounds--all share the same space, yet may see it quite differently.
I really enjoy the rich use of pattern and contrast in these images, especially when the patterns and pieces appear lopsided, uneven, or even waywardly bulging past the constraints that the frame might have put on them. And yet the frames change with their contents rather than forcing the images to remain the same, or appear disproportionately forced-in. Just as people move around both physically and socially, neighborhoods change size and composition, and cities endlessly follow a pattern of build-demolish-rebuild, the patterns and photographs in McGhee's work reflect an ever-expanding process of fitting together the numerous and incalculable pieces that make a city and its people.