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River Ice
Steve Geer

In the middle of winter, after the water has lost its summer heat, the Chicago River sometimes freezes. Not the whole river, just the top layer. It’s as if a cold finger is poking into the heart of Chicago from Lake Michigan. Sunlight and city lights are reflected from the ice and, when it’s newly washed and wet, the ice also reflects the cityscape. It’s magical.

Each year I look forward to this transformation of the Chicago River. The river does not remain frozen for long. Usually just a few days before the water warms by one or two degrees and the ice melts. It’s a sort of metaphor for the effects of global warming – just a couple of degrees transforms this fragile world.

While it lasts, the ice groans and creeks. It’s always in motion, and the geometry of its icy polygons are always changing. The textured surface also evolves and its appearance changes with the light as the day progresses and clouds come and go. I could spend the whole day photographing the abstract forms and varying light from the frozen river. In fact, I have spent much of several winter days doing just that, giving up only when the cold has penetrated too far into my hidden warmth.

The series River Ice is a celebration of the phenomenology of winter. It is a celebration of the natural world reaching into the center of the city, and of things that are novel because they are ever changing and brief. I hope that future Chicago winters will continue to be cold enough for the river to freeze and delight future generations.

- Steve Geer

Steve grew up in England. Photography and natural science were the passions of his youth. After studying physics at Liverpool University he worked as an experimental physicist in Geneva, Switzerland before moving to the U.S. to teach physics at Harvard University. Photography had taken a back seat but then came the digital revolution and Steve began selling his photographs as stock images. By this time he had moved to Chicago. After a few years of stock photography, Steve became interested in producing images that provided a greater outlet for his imagination. Since 2015 he has been represented at the Perspective Gallery of Fine Art Photography in Evanston, Illinois.

In recent years Steve has had his work featured in photography magazines, published in books and exhibited in galleries in the United States and Europe. His featured exhibitions at the Perspective Gallery have been: Chicago through the Looking Glass (February 2016), From the Ground Up (April 2017), One-sixth of a Second (February 2018), and Discarded (June 2019).

Visit Steve Geer’s site