Glenn Hansen has been photographing for over 40 years. After receiving a degree in Biology and Chemistry, with an environmental emphasis, he turned to his passion for photography and pursued a career in Photography. Hansen prepared for this new career by studying photography with alumni of the Institute of Design at the College of DuPage. They encouraged him to attend Institute of Design and study in the master’s program. It was there that he began a long time working relationship and friendship with David Plowden.
Hansen worked as David Plowden’s assistant from 1979 to 1991 and has now returned to work with Plowden on digital and photographic matters. In the first 12 years as an assistant, Hansen learned the art of documentary photography as Plowden completed 7 books and numerous exhibitions during their time together. Returning to work with Plowden has been a wonderful time to work with a friend and master photographer as he continues to create new work, books, and prints for exhibition. Hansen sees this time together as an honor, as he helps to organize and archive 60 years of important photographic work that impacted him as an image maker.
The ID experience and Master's degree opened many paths for Hansen. After graduating in 1984, he began a business as freelance photographer specializing in location product photography and editorial photography. But, the love of teaching had started early, and in 1982, Hansen began his teaching career at Lake County Community College; after 9 years of part-time teaching he started teaching photography full-time. Since 1991, Hansen and his colleagues have built a photography program at College of DuPage that rivals most schools in the country. It is not the typical community college photography program, but a program that prepares students for commercial or fine art careers with a deep program of courses that are usually only found at universities. Many students finishing the program start their own photographic careers or transfer to four-year school for higher degree.
It has been an exciting time to be involved in the evolution of photography, as the medium transformed from film based photography to digital image-making. While the technology of image production has changed, the importance of the photograph and photographer's vision hasn't changed. Hansen has always had a documentary emphasis to his images. He continues the tradition by showing the viewer images that share the experience of being there. While the subject itself is important, it’s the photographer’s and viewer’s response that is key to the success of the photograph.
Hansen is primarily a large format photographer who has now been applying that discipline and contemplative approach to the new smaller format digital cameras. His work is predominantly black and white, but the new technology has offered an opportunity to explore color simultaneously. The subjects have ranged from urban to the transitional zone between suburban and rural environments to the high plains of the western United States. Current projects are the Sears Powerhouse, the High Plains Project, and the West Chicago Documentary Project
The Sears Powerhouse Project was a group endeavor. Hansen worked with Russell Phillips and Ken Burkhart to document the Sears Homan Square Powerhouse before it was converted into a magnet school in the Chicago Public School system. In 2006 after being dormant for 4 years, photographers had the opportunity to explore the archeological site that was once a vibrant catalog retail center. Abandoned and shuttered, the facility remained unchanged except for the wear of time and weather for 4 years. Hansen continues to print and exhibit work from that project.
Hansen has been photographing the high plains of Wyoming and Colorado since the mid 70’s. These images are of the open space and sky where man is only a transient guest. The land, weather, and light are constants but man comes and goes as he attempts to control the use the land for his advantage. The beauty of the landscape as well as it’s solitude has been photographed over the years. Evidence of man’s presence is often included.
The West Chicago Project began as a personal project several years ago and led to a class that Hansen teaches during the summer. Students create images of this small town west of Chicago that is part of the transition of rural to urban culture. The work has generated a large collection of images for the city museum, a website, an exhibition, with an exhibition of new work coming soon.
Additional samples of Hansen’s work are at www.glennhansen.com and at OnView Gallery in Park Ridge, IL, www.onviewllc.com. Silver and archival digital prints are available for purchase.