BY DALLAS ATHENT
Although Meryl Meisler has become a household name in photography in the past five years, it wasn’t only recent that she began photographing. Staring in the seventies, Meisler started documenting her everyday life, which would eventually lead to the creation of an important, relevant retrospect with her book Disco Era Bushwick. This book is a collection of photographs taken in Bushwick in the 70s and 80s when she was a teacher in Brooklyn, and in New York City nightlife, where she hung out.
While Meisler had been exhibiting her photographs locally, Disco Era Bushwick achieved her worldwide recognition, sparking reviews in The New Yorker, The New York Times and Papermag. She recently released her second book, SASSY, which contains photos of suburban life in the 70’s.
Most recently, Meisler had a solo show launch at Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea. The gallery selected 35 original vintage prints out of her collection. What we see in the photographs is a complete snapshot of life back then--full of color, big hair, big glasses and big personality. The type of lifestyle, both urban and suburban that Meisler was able to capture is candid and real--something impossible to recreate.
The fact that Meisler’s work is now becoming famous proves one thing: the importance of making work for work’s sake. Back when she printed the photos, they served as fun memories for her friends and family. She photographed people because she loved them, and because she loved taking pictures. By sticking to what was close and honest to her, teaching, family and nightlight, she created a well-rounded view of life in the 70’s that has now become iconic. The realness of the work is what helped it prevail.
If you have a chance, be sure to visit this exhibit. Meryl Meisler will be on view February 25th – April 9th, 2016. Steven Kasher Gallery is located at 515 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM.
Dallas Athent is the editor of the short story collection Bushwick Nightz. She's also an artist whose work has been shown in The Hollows, Cara Gallery, The Storefront Ten Eyck and more. Her work has been profiled in Brooklyn Magazine, The L Magazine, DNAinfo and Bedford + Bowery. She lives in The Bronx with her adopted pets.