Stories in Black and White: Local Photographer Shows Work at Classic Cinemas' Theatre

Catching a show? You can also see a collection of work by Forest Park-based photographer Debra Mae Funderwhite while you wait for your popcorn.

One tends to think about moving pictures when going to a movie theatre, but at Classic Cinemas' North Riverside Mall Theatre, 7501 W. Cermak Rd. in North Riverside, you can also explore the still photography of Debra Mae Funderwhite.

In special exhibit this month, Funderwhite's largely black and white collection of photographs document her travel across the county, and the people and places that have crossed her path.

The collection sits behind glass in the theatre's lobby not far from where you'd grab your popcorn before a show. The photographs will be up for the month of February, and will likely catch your eye as you head to your theatre.

Stop, and take a look.

Funderwhite grew up in rural Pennsylvania and joined the army after high school. Later, she and her husband traveled the Midwest, moving frequently as a military family often does. As she traveled, Funderwhite worked for newspapers and portrait studios honing her craft. The result is a wide variety of images taken on the streets and in the studio. Subjects are varied too: from a portrait of a recently graduated cadet from Kentucky, to a close up on the hands and face of a praying Tibetan monk in India.

"A photographer has a voice, but it's a silent voice," she said of her images.

Photography has long been her passion and means of self-expression, but for Funderwhite, the story behind the image is as fascinating as image itself.

"This is life," she said of the images in the collection. "We each have a story to tell and it's my desire to share it through photography."

The Classic Cinemas' collection focuses on the various stages of life and how they resonate with the viewer.

"Photography is all about perspective," Funderwhite said. "If 20 people take a photo of the same image or setting, the photo will come out 20 different ways. If those people each look at a photo, it will mean something different to each of them."

In addition to doing freelance work, Funderwhite also volunteers in Oak Park running a class on photography for home schooled kids through the One Day Enrichment Program.

Starting in March, it's the kid's chance to be in the spotlight. Funderwhite will be curating a selection of her student's work to be put on display at the theatre. Those prints will be available for sale.

Like the images Funderwhite captures, the opportunity to see this work is fleeting. So, the next time you feel like a movie, skip the previews and catch a story told in black and white.


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