Cross-country collaboration culminates in ‘Birdlady’

Vivian Maier lived in Chicago most of her life, working as a nanny, with a serious photography hobby. She captured American life in the 1950’s and 60’s, but never shared her work. Maier’s photographs were stored, (many weren’t even developed), and eventually sold when she could no longer afford the rent on the storage unit where they were kept. Maier may well be the greatest photographer that no one ever knew.

It wasn’t until after her death in 2009 that art enthusiasts really began to know Vivian Maier, and her story brings up a number of thoughts that artists of all genres can relate to. Maier created art for art’s sake. She never sought money or notoriety – was the joy in the process, in the search for the perfect photo? In the desire to observe American life as a voyeur?

Bird Lady 1_photo by Anna Johnson Ryndová (1)
Photo: Anna Johson Ryndová

Maier’s life and work are the subject of Rebecca Salzer’s dance work Birdlady showing this weekend at Links Hall. The work was created through a two-year collaborative process with eight artists from a variety of genres and locations. Authentic 50’s style costuming, projections, and light are used to create living replicas of Maier’s photographs, as Salzer dances with Chicago’s own Kristina Fluty and Liz Burritt. Whenever these two women are involved in something, I’m rarely disappointed.

Bird Lady runs May 30 – June 1 at 7:00 pm. Links Hall (3111 N. Western Ave.). Tickets are $15 – 18 available at the door or online. 

Also this weekend:

The Pivot Arts Festival kicks off TONIGHT in various locations across the North side. Loyola’s “Art meets science” celebration features tons of heavy hitters from the dance community, as well as workshops, talks, and events in theater, culinary arts, and film. Dance events include performances by Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape, The Dance COLEctive, Kristina Isabelle, and The Seldoms.

Event prices range from free – $15. View the full line-up and purchase tickets at