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This web site presents
the work of Esther Parada accompanied by texts taken from her writings.


Artist/photographer Esther Parada was a faculty member at the School of Art & Design, University of Illinois at Chicago from 1974 to 2004. In the mid-60s she served with the U.S. Peace Corps as art instructor at the Escuela de Artes Plasticas, Universidad de San Francisco Xavier, in Sucre, Bolivia, where she learned to speak fluent Spanish.

Parada has written critical articles on Latin American photography and cultural politics for Afterimage, Aperture, and Exposure magazines. Her essay C/Overt Ideology: Two Images of Revolution is anthologized in The Contest of Meaning, published by MIT Press (1989); and her long-term concern with U.S. media and documentary practice in relation to Third World countries led to the creation of a multi-media essay To Make All Mankind Acquaintances, published as part of the CD-ROM Three Works by the California Museum of Photography in 1996. The piece may be seen at the Contact Zones web site (

Parada’s earlier multiple-frame photographic works, Past Recovery (1979) and Memory Warp (1980), which layer images and text related to family history, are represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Since 1986 she has used digital technology to create a number of photo-montage and photo-text works which reflect on the relationship between historical/cultural representation and power. These works, which include The Monroe Doctrine: Theme and Variations, Define/Defy the Frame, A Thousand Centuries, Native Fruits, and At the Margin, may be seen in various publications such as In Our Own Image: The Coming Revolution in Photography (1990, Aperture Press); Iterations: The New Image, (1993, International Center of Photography with MIT Press); History of Women Photographers (1994, Abbeville Press); Reframings:New American Feminist Photographies (1995, Temple University Press); and A World History of Photography (1996, Abbeville Press). They may also be seen on the Digital Imaging Forum web site (

Since 1995, Parada has explored connections between horticultural and cultural history, leading to a 1996 website Transplant: A Tale of Three Continents, and her recent work titled When the Bough Breaks. This multi-media installation at Gallery 312 in Chicago (2004) was a memorial to the loss of urban elm trees, and an exploration of their significance culturally and as a methapor in American life. An earlier version of this work, titled Canopy: A Meditation on the Demise of the American Elm, was developed by Parada during her year as a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA (1997-98).

Parada was named SPE Honored Educator in 1994, and was the recipient of NEA Photography Fellowships in 1982 and 1988.

From Esther Parada's Capsule Resume, 2/20/05. Her full resume, as of 9/20/04,
may be found here.

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