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Daylight Books : Susan Ressler : Dreaming California


“Ressler views Southern California, and especially Los Angeles, as a bellwether for the rest of the country, noting insightfully that what happens here often presages trends throughout the United States and beyond. California’s influence on America has been historically documented in accounts dating back to the mid-nineteenth-century gold rush.” —Larry Lytle

Perhaps one of the most iconic and symbolic cities in America, Los Angeles, California is also one of the most extreme. It is a place where dreams and storytelling about the human experience are a big and glamorous industry. Sparks of possibility around hopes and dreams reaching stardom-level, coexist alongside risk and staggering disappointment. The city’s sprawling infrastructure holds both jaw-dropping wealth and poverty, and even the landscape reflects a disparity in experience: the rolling waves, pristine beaches, and nightly sunsets into the ocean line one side of the city, and wildfires and mudslides are annual factors on the inland side.

Within these dichotomies, photographer Susan Ressler presents a sequel to her award-winning monograph, Executive Order: Images of 1970s Corporate America (Daylight, 2018), further examining power relationships: wealth disparity, political unrest, social inequity, and injustice through photographs of Los Angeles and Southern California.

The vibrant color photographs in Dreaming California span a 12-year period between 2010 and 2022. The book is divided into sections that consolidate and highlight particular visual and conceptual themes, and this format helps to reinforce some of the book’s overall cultural messages as reflected through architecture, people, and social norms.


Susan Ressler is an author, educator and social documentary photographer. She has been making photographs for about 50 years, and her work is in the Smithsonian American Museum of Art, the Library Archives Canada, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and many other important collections. She has been widely exhibited, both nationally and internationally, with solo shows at venues that include Nexus Contemporary Art Center (Atlanta), Center for Creative Studies (Detroit), Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery (Lincoln, NE) and BC Space, (Laguna Beach, CA) among others. Ressler edited the book Women Artists of the American West (McFarland, 2003), a scholarly anthology on under-represented women artists west of the Mississippi and was Head of the Photography Area at Purdue University, where she taught photographic practice, criticism and history from 1981-2004. Ressler received an MFA from the University of New Mexico fine art photography program in 1986. She is Professor Emerita, Department of Visual and Performing Arts, Purdue University, and she currently resides in Taos, New Mexico.


Susan Ressler : Dreaming California
Daylight Books
124 pages
90 Photographs
10  x 10 inches
ISBN-13: 9781954119208
Price: $50 US

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