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Black and white photograph looking from an alley into the Garage, where people are sitting and listiening to someone perform

The Picture-Taking Lady: Mikki Ferrill at the Garage

Inside an Exhibition


Communications staff
October 8, 2018

The event was a word-of-mouth happening. The people, the music, and just the atmosphere became my spiritual inspiration. They called me “The Picture-Taking Lady.” I covered the walls of the Garage with pictures of themselves. —Mikki Ferrill

Black and whilte photograph of people dancing inside the Garage.

Untitled, about 1970

Valeria “Mikki” Ferrill. From the series The Garage (1970/80). National Docent Symposium Endowment.

While working as a freelance photojournalist, Chicago-based photographer Mikki Ferrill began documenting the Garage, an improvised music venue that popped up every Sunday in a car garage at 610 East 50th Street.

Man and woman dancing amidst a crowd of people at the Garage.

Untitled, 1970/80

Valeria “Mikki” Ferrill. From the series The Garage (1970/80). Through prior gifts of Flora Stieglitz Straus and Emanuel and Edithann M. Gerard.

Ferrill photographed these events regularly for 10 years (1970–80), creating images that demonstrate a relaxed relationship between her and her subjects—members of a close-knit community who saw the Garage as a space for the uninhibited personal expression of black identity.

Couple dancing in front of a seated audience in the Garage

Untitled, 1970/80

Valeria “Mikki” Ferrill. From the series The Garage (1970/80). Through prior gifts of Helen Harvey Mills and Richard L. Menschel.

Listen to a recording of Michele Madison, who appears in Ferrill’s photos, as she describes the experience and history of this legendary venue through the perspective of someone who was there.

Man and woman having an ins

Untitled, 1970

Valeria “Mikki” Ferrill. From the series The Garage (1970/80). David Travis Fund.

Mikki Ferrill’s work appears in the exhibition Never a Lovely So Real: Photography and Film in Chicago, 1950–1980, a poetic survey of photographers and filmmakers who worked in neighborhoods across the city from the 1950s through the 1970s. Check it out before it closes October 28.


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