Terry Evans

Hunger Strikers for Southeast Side, 2021
Archival inkjet print on canvas

In February 2021, Chicago activists began a hunger strike to protest the proposed relocation of the General Iron metal shredding plant from the affluent and predominantly white neighborhood of Lincoln Park to the city’s Southeast Side, a majority Black and Latinx working class neighborhood. The hunger strike, part of a longer campaign against the facility’s move, drew attention to the pervasive nature of racist and classist zoning practices that continue to shape Chicago’s landscape. Here, Evans portrays the individuals who risked their physical and emotional well-being to confront the inequitable systems and power structures that perpetuate environmental racism.

Courtesy of the artist.


Petcoke vs. Grassroots, 2015
Archival inkjet prints

These aerial photographs from Terry Evans’s larger series Petcoke vs.Grassroots document the intensive petro industry on Chicago’s Southeast Side along the Calumet River and the resulting pollution that local residents and activists have struggled against for years. Waste from the refining of oil from Canada’s tar sands pile far up, creating a serious health and environmental hazard for working-class and predominantly Latinx communities that live nearby. By presenting the contaminated and contested land from above, Evans offers a visual framing of the site that diverges from a traditional landscape and instead offers an all-encompassing, yet abstracted, view of the land. Marshes and rivers appear as broad swaths of blues and greens, intersected by the sharp geometries of railways, power lines, and cranes busy with the dirty work of the fossil fuel industry.

Loading Petcoke onto a Barge on Calumet River
Big Marsh, Southeast Chicago
Sulfur Storage, Calumet River

Courtesy of the artist.


The Martinez Family Symbolically Blocking the New Petcoke Shipping Rail Spur (Petcoke vs. Grassroots), 2015
Archival inkjet print

The Martinez family symbolically blocks a new rail track intended for shipping petroleum coke or “petcoke,” a waste product of the oil refining used as a cheap, but exceptionally polluting, fuel for power plants. Mountains of petcoke, a byproduct of tar sands processing, loom large on the southeast side of Chicago, their toxic dust persistently polluting the air of lower income and minority communities who are then put at risk of respiratory diseases, cancer, and other illnesses. After intensive organizing and protest, local residents and environmental activists forced the removal of the petcoke and other waste piles for the sake of human and ecological health.

Courtesy of the artist.