There is an element of play in nearly all my photographs. To create the self-portrait as a ballerina, I donned one of my childhood ballet recital costumes to reenact a performance and curtsied in the living room of the home I grew up in. Moving from the suburbs to New York City in the 1970s was thrilling. I enjoyed photographing kids of all ages at play on the streets of NYC during what I consider my SASSY ‘70s. I like to photograph things that give me joy, because there’s certainly enough heartache.
Meryl Meisler was born in the South Bronx in 1951 and raised in North Massapequa, Long Island, NY. Inspired by Diane Arbus and Jacques Henri Lartigue, 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 that explored her Jewish Identity for the American Jewish Congress. After CETA, Meryl began a 31-year career as an art teacher in New York City’s public schools. Upon retirement from teaching, she began revealing large bodies of unseen work. Her monographs, “A Tale of Two Cities Disco Era Bushwick” and “Purgatory & Paradise SASSY ‘70s Suburbia & The City” (Bizarre Publishing) received international acclaim. Meryl is represented by Steven Kasher Gallery.
Images by Meryl Meisler / courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery