Susan Ressler – Dreaming California: High End, Low End, No End in Sight

“Dreaming California: High End, Low End, No End in Sight” is Susan Ressler’s book, published in May 2023 by Daylight. The book encompasses twelve years of her work in capturing color photographs across Southern California, serving as a follow-up to her earlier monograph “Executive Order: Images of 1970s Corporate America” (Daylight, 2018).
Once again, Ressler delves into the dynamics of power: the privileged and the underprivileged, political turmoil, injustice, and inequality. Her exploration isn’t confined solely to the Golden State, but extends to the entire US, with broader implications for the global stage.
Ressler regards Southern California, particularly Los Angeles, as a barometer for the nation, astutely observing that trends often germinate here before rippling across the United States and even beyond. California’s historical influence on America has been well-documented, stretching back to the mid-19th-century gold rush, as noted by Larry Lytle.
Los Angeles, California, an iconic and emblematic city in America, occupies a unique space. It’s a realm where dreams and narratives about the human experience are not just stories, but a grand and dazzling industry. Aspirations of achieving fame and success coexist with the looming risk of immense disappointment. The city’s expansive landscape mirrors its duality—pristine beaches and mesmerizing sunsets over the ocean on one side, juxtaposed with the yearly threats of wildfires and mudslides on the other.
Amid these contrasts, photographer Susan Ressler presents a sequel to her acclaimed monograph, “Executive Order: Images of 1970s Corporate America” (Daylight, 2018). This sequel delves deeper into power dynamics, exploring wealth inequality, social unrest, and injustice through a series of photographs capturing Los Angeles and Southern California.
The vivid color photographs within “Dreaming California” span from 2010 to 2022, covering a span of twelve years. The book is thoughtfully organized into sections that distill and emphasize specific visual and conceptual themes. This structure reinforces the overarching cultural messages conveyed through depictions of architecture, people, and societal norms.

A portrait of Susan Ressler by Paul Duboff

About the Author

Susan Ressler stands as an accomplished figure, encompassing roles as an author, educator, and social documentary photographer. With nearly half a century dedicated to photography, her creations have earned a place in prestigious collections such as the Smithsonian American Museum of Art, Library Archives Canada, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), among others of significance.
Her work has achieved widespread recognition, being exhibited extensively on both national and international platforms. Solo exhibitions at prominent venues including Nexus Contemporary Art Center in Atlanta, Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Lincoln, NE, and BC Space in Laguna Beach, CA, underline her impactful presence in the art world.
Ressler took on the role of editing the book “Women Artists of the American West” (McFarland, 2003), a scholarly compilation spotlighting often overlooked female artists from the western United States. She also held the position of Head of the Photography Area at Purdue University, where she adeptly imparted knowledge of photographic practice, critique, and history from 1981 to 2004. In 1986, she achieved her MFA from the University of New Mexico’s fine art photography program. Currently, she holds the title of Professor Emerita in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue University, while her home is now in Taos, New Mexico.
Her inaugural book, “Executive Order: Images of 1970s Corporate America,” enriched by an essay from American studies scholar Mark Rice, was recently brought forth by Daylight Books in the spring of 2018.

Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Daylight Books (May 30, 2023)
Language: English
Size: 10.25 x 0.75 x 10.25 inches
Weight: 1.85 pounds
ISBN-10: 1954119208
ISBN-13: 978-1954119208

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