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THE ENDANGERED UNRULY

Mary Beth Edelson, Woman Rising/Sky, 1988, gelatin silver print, 42 × 42".

I BECAME INTERESTED in Mary Beth Edelson for self-centered reasons. I read that she was born and raised in East Chicago, Indiana, a mere six miles from Hammond, my hometown. Edelson has described East Chicago as a “booming multi-racial steel mill town of immigrants.” My brother worked in the steel mill she’s referencing. Rust Belt Indiana is a place nobody comes from, and nothing interesting ever happens there. But Mary Beth Edelson came from there, so I have an urge to see her as a spiritual mother. She was born in 1933, two years after my actual mother. My mother was the daughter of an alcoholic garbageman, and was proud to have graduated from her technical high school. She took a part-time job as a janitress to help pay for my college. Edelson’s father was a dentist; at age thirteen, she was taking Saturday classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, and her mother set up a home

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