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This Photographer Captures Chicago’s Skyline as an ‘Urban Quilt’


For the past few years, Chicago-based photographer Angie McMonigal has been working on a project titled Urban Quilt. Her goal is to capture her city’s buildings as a patchwork of colors, textures, and materials.

“I don’t just see individual buildings standing there as imposing towers of steel,” McMonigal says. “I see a patchwork. Different colors, different textures, different materials, different architectural styles, all pieced together.”

“Some patches are pristine and new, others a little more worn. There are iconic patterns, immediately recognizable, and also bits that are hard to identify, fragments that feel familiar but are hard to place.”

“We often think of photographs as capturing a single moment in time. A shutter clicks, an instant is preserved,” the photographer says. “Quilts, as I learned from my grandmother, are slow. They take hours and hours to make. They are passed down from generation to generation.”

“A single quilt can take scraps of fabric from different eras and bring them together into a unified whole — a whole that celebrates, rather than hides, the uniqueness of each of the pieces, and the time and effort it takes to bring them together.”

“When I started photographing the city as an urban quilt, I became more aware of the way these buildings preserve different moments from our history,” says McMonigal. “Those moments aren’t arranged in a nice orderly timeline like you’d find in a history book or a museum display. They’re standing next to each other, layered on top of one another.”

“My photographs flatten out the miles between the streets and erase the years that separate one construction project from the next.”

You can find more of McMonigal’s work on her website, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and Twitter.