meryl meisler

Meryl Meisler was born 1951 in the South Bronx and raised in North Massapequa, Long Island, NY. Inspired by Diane Arbus, Jacques Henri Lartigue as well as her dad Jack and grandfather Murray Meisler, Meryl began photographing herself, family, and friends while enrolled in a photography class taught by Cavalliere Ketchum at The University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 1975, Meryl returned to New York City and studied with Lisette Model, continuing to photograph her hometown and the city around her. After working as a freelance illustrator by day, Meryl frequented and photographed the infamous New York Discos. As a 1978 CETA Artist grant recipient, Meryl created a portfolio of photographs which explored her Jewish Identity for the American Jewish Congress. After CETA, Meryl began a 3 decade career as a NYC Public School Art Teacher. 

Meisler has received fellowships, grants and residencies from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Light Work, YADDO,  The Puffin Foundation, Time Warner, Artists Space, C.E.T.A., the China Institute and the Japan Society. Her work has been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society, Dia Art Foundation, MASS MoCA, Islip Art Museum, Annenberg Space for Photography, the New Museum for Contemporary Art, New-York Historical Society, Steven Kasher Gallery, The Whitney Museum of American Art and in public spaces including Grand Central Terminal, South Street Seaport, Photoville and throughout the NYC subway system. Her work is in the permanent collections of the American Jewish Congress, ARTPPOOL Budapest, AT&T, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Brooklyn Historical Society, Book Art Museum-Poland, Columbia University, Emory University, Islip Art Museum, the Library of Congress, Musée de la Poste Paris, Smithsonian Institute, University of Iowa, The Waskomium and can be found in the artist book collections of Carnegie Melon, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Chrysler Museum, the Museum of Modern Art NYC, Metronome Library,,  and Whitney Museum of American Art.

Upon retiring from the NYC public schools, Meisler began releasing large bodies of previously unseen work. Meryl’s first monograph A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick (Bizarre, 2014), received international acclaim. The book juxtaposes her zenith of disco photos with images of the burned out yet beautiful neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn in the 1980s. Her second book, Purgatory & Paradise SASSY ‘70s Suburbia & The City (Bizarre, 2015), contrasts intimate images of home life on Long Island alongside NYC street and night life. She is happily back working in the darkroom, making gelatin silver prints of contemporary images and never seen photos from her enormous archive. Meryl is currently working on two more books in her series about the 1970s & '80s. NYC EPIC: Disco Era Bushwick Redux will be released in Spring 2020. NYC EPIC will be bigger, badder, bolder and make her first books seem like fairytales. 

Meryl lives and works in New York City and Woodstock, NY, continuing the photographic memoir she began in 1973 – a uniquely American story, sweet and sassy with a pinch of mystery. 

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