Jay Wolke

Jay Wolke is an artist and educator living in Chicago Illinois. He is the author of: All Around the House: Photographs of American-Jewish Communal Life, 1998; Along the Divide: Photographs of the Dan Ryan Expressway, 2004 and Architecture of Resignation: Photographs from the Mezzogiorno, 2011. His fourth monograph: Same Dream Another Time: Photographs from Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City will be released in July 2017. His works have been exhibited internationally and are in the permanent print collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York MOMA, the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco MOMA, among others. From 1992-1999 he was Coordinator of Graduate Documentary Photography at the Institute of Design, IIT. In 1999-2000 he served as Head of Art and Graduate Studies at Studio Art Centers International, Florence, Italy. He is currently a Professor of Photography at Columbia College where he was Chair of the Art and Design Department from 2000-2005 and again from 2008-2013.

Portrait by Devina Yoestong

Stories from Jay Wolke

Jay Wolke & Gary Comer College Preparatory Middle School

Project Overview

School is a unique and privileged space, a macrocosm designed to alter one’s cognitive and conceptual faculties. It is an institutional system where expectation and aspiration are outspokenly and universally communicated, and it is a place intended to highlight the evidence of effort and realization. The nature of “school” and the volume of corroborating materials, specific to teaching and learning, are wide-ranging. These institutions of public education invite examination, interpretation and commentary.


Jay Wolke & Dolittle Elementary School

“I’m committed to creating community through shared, visual language and the impact it has on our common interests,” – Jay Wolke, Artist.

Project Overview

My project involves the ideation and production of “Schoolrooms”, distilling intrinsic, semiotic characteristics of entire schools into single, immersive installations. I am now working in James R Doolittle Elementary School and Gary Comer High School, using mobile scanning devices to record all manner of environmental surfaces and objects. My intention is to create installations, comprised of visual references from an entire school and then condensing those elements into a single room, measuring approximately 8’x8’x12’– an analogue to the overwhelming school experience and the intrinsic character of each individual school. Accompanying the visual environment will be an audio track of various voices, sounds, lectures, shows, etc. The “Schoolroom” projects will embody many of the aesthetic and content goals I aspire to and will initiate a primary dialogue with public audiences, across the city. I’m committed to creating community through shared, visual language and the impact it has on our common interests.

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