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A large number of African Americans had migrated from the South to the North during the war, and Miller focused on the African American community of his hometown on the South Side of Chicago. Miller was eager to create photographs that would depict what he refers to as "universal truths" in order to help people of all races come together and see that we are not all that different. He once said, "we may differ in race, color, language, wealth, and politics. But look at what we all have in common - dreams, laughter, tears, pride, the comfort of home, the hunger for love".
Throughout this body of work Miller clearly portrays all of these qualities through his moving and poignant images. In the faces of his subjects one gets a sense of fear, despair, joy and hope. From the photographs of patrons laughing and dancing at the 45th Street bar to a jubilant bride after her wedding, Miller captures moments of happiness in a community often encumbered by hard times. Along with these images of hope and joy there are also the ones that reflect the worries and troubles of individuals in their daily lives. Images, such as the photograph of a wife holding the family's bills and the husband sits with a drink in his hand, or the image in which a mother stands with her back to the camera as she looks out of a window and wonders how she is going to support her newborn alone.
These black and white images of the South Side of Chicago from 50 years ago tell a story of everyday life within a tight knit community. Through his photographs Miller brings the viewer into the lives of his subjects in hopes of portraying the simple fact that then, as well as now, we all have the same needs, desires, hopes and dreams.
Wayne Miller was a member of Edward Steichen's World War II U.S. Navy Combat Photo Unit, an associate curator for the famous The Family of Man exhibit and book at New York's Museum of Modern Art, a contract photographer for LIFE magazine, and a member and former president of Magnum Photos. He also coauthored Baby's First Year with Dr. Spock, and authored The World is Young.
[Contributed by Lee Gallery]