Photos Were On Display

Russell's Publications; The Crete Record
Editor Chris Russell

Text and photos by Regina Nuttall

Photos were on Display

Carol Thorner is well-known to local and Chicago gallery visitors.
Her photos were on display last month in Crete Public Library.
Looking at them, you were able to feel the spirit of the author- a unique and creative woman with interesting life history.
She has found that self- expression and art can help people who are unhappy and unfulfilled. And it is very simple to start: take a class in a local college. It is a very small investment that could have a very big reward.
Thorner signed up for a photography class at Prairie State College in late 1970 by accident. Her husband, who had a lot of photo equipment, wasn't interested in still photos.
He was interested only in taking movies. She wanted pictures of their kids when they were little.
"This was the first place where I felt comfortable in my life. Where I could be myself, could take art work. There was no criticism, there was no judgment, there was no having to be what I wasn't. I got to be relaxed and just be", she says.
Carol also took painting, sewing, pottery, ceramics.
She made a lot of things for her home. She has continued her studies for all these years- now she has a masters degree and teaches what she has learned.
"I became a professor by accident, when my professors asked me to share knowledge with other people". Her students are of all different ages: from 12 years old to 82.
She teaches not only at Prairie State College, but also twice weekly at Governors State University, Daley College in Chicago, and the Art Center in Munster.
"We have women that are raising children and deciding that washing floors, doing house work and making lunches is not enough. I found it to be true- you need something for yourself. You are not just focusing on your husband's white shirt and what the kids eat It's nice, but there is more.
My husband always had white shirts and I still did photography".
Thorner sees young creative and talented girls and women, and feels a special empathy for them. She hopes the men in their lives will not ask:"Choose me or your art".
Her husband didn't understand why she felt the need to be creative. He was a traditional husband who thought his wife should only be concerned with the house and the kids. He asked her to choose and, after 12 years of marriage, they divorced.
Carol knows many families where this terrible problem still exists. "Women who were taught in colleges and universities to think, to feel as a human being, after marriage were asked to sit at home and later to choose".
She knows women who are in unhappy marriages and take pills try to feel human again. She thinks many of them wouldn't need the medications if they would only let themselves express their native creativity.
Many of her photos were taken during her extensive travels. She has been to Africa eight times, twice to Antarctica, more than once to China, Europe, Siberia, Russia. Some of these photos you can see in the Park Forest Art center, in the Thompson Center in Chicago, the Art Center in Munster, and in various Chicago galleries.
With her business partner, Marlene Gallagher, she runs a stock and fine art photo business.
With her interest in feminism, she has many works about women. "Is it possible to make photographs as powerful as these people are? I never found a way to do it that satisfied me. These women were much more powerful than they looked".
If you want to learn to make good photos, to work in a dark room, to develop black and white film and make prints by yourself, you can sign up for classes. Carol says many people have good equipment, but don't know how to use it.
One semester in college costs only $200. It covers the chemistry and classes and the use of dark room, and $120 for film, paper, and printing supplies.
You will have fun and maybe discover the hidden artist in you.