Photography and Art

Girls, Gyrls, Gyrlz -- Mannikins as Statues

Bronze Girl - Grant Park Chicago
Copyright, 2004 - Ellin Beltz
Black-and-white photography by

Ellin Beltz

Good Relations
Eureka, California

September 2003

Artist's Statement

The other artist in this show was my spouse Ken Mierzwa. His favorite subject matter is nude females and he'd been building his portfolio for years and was well recognized for his efforts. To complement Ken's series Strong Women I was asked to shoot Mannikins as Statutes by Debi Hatchett of Chicago's Anatomically Correct Gallery for a group show she was putting together. She sort of waved her hands around and asked for "You know, mannequins or dummies or something that shows how strong women are used as models." So I had to get hopping and shoot some pictures.

For years, every time my friend Mike came to our studio, he'd always take a good look at Ken's photos and offer"to hold lights" or "do anything" just to be able to be a part of a shoot, "you know, with naked girls."

You also need to know that Mike never gets out of bed until 10 a.m. and moves outwards around noon.

So one morning around 8:00 a.m. when the light was just perfect and there was a fine mist in the air, (well, o.k. it was raining) I called Mike who had, after all promised to do "anything" to help with a shoot and told him, "Let's go shoot some naked girls in the park!" He was in front of my house with the motor running at 8:27 a.m. We drove all the way to the south side and there in the park was the naked girl just as promised. She was made of bronze and the model had been dead for 50 years, but a naked girl is a naked girl especially in the storm it had become.

So Mike, great sport that he is, not only held the umbrella so I could shoot without wrecking my camera, but he pointed me in the direction of a bunch of other "naked girls in Chicago parks" and cemeteries. This show features black and white photographs that were the results of our day's trip.

They're all dead. But in their time they must have been unconventional. Imagine posing back then when an ankle was a big deal. And imagine knowing that your work would be in the park for the prudes, the kids and the pigeons to perve on until it got melted down, beaten up or destroyed by the winds of time.

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Ellin Beltz
June 23, 2004

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