ROMEOVILLE – The 2015 HERO/HELPS Community Forum, titled, “A Public Health Response to the Heroin Epidemic: Action Strategies,” will include a preview of an exhibit by a local photographer who has spent years on the streets documenting the heroin epidemic that plagues Chicago and its suburbs.
Freelance documentary street photographer Chuck Jines will offer an exclusive preview of his photographs during the HERO/HELPS forum from 8 a.m. until noon on Friday, April 10 at the Edward Hospital Athletic and Events Center, 55 Phelps Ave., in Romeoville.
The photographer’s complete exhibit, titled “Heroin: A Love/Hate Relationship,” will open at Gallery Seven, 116 N. Chicago St., Suite 102, in downtown Joliet, beginning with a reception at 6 p.m. also on Friday, April 10. The exhibit will run through April 22.
Jines worked for two years on Chicago’s streets, photographing people who are addicted to heroin and documenting their daily lives. His photographs capture the gritty and often deadly reality of the heroin crisis, which has overflowed from the stereotypical back alleys of the inner city and into the surrounding suburbs.
The photographer gained rare access into what he describes as the heroin community, and he was allowed to chronicle the dangerous and desperate lives of several people struggling with their heroin addictions. Jines came to know several of his subjects on a deep and personal level, and he is working to tell their stories through his photographs and in a forthcoming book.
The HERO/HELPS preview will bring a new dimension to the forum, said Paul Lauridsen, clinical director at Stepping Stones Treatment and Recovery Center and a member of the summit steering and planning committee.
“For the past several years at our summit we have focused on strategies to resolve a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of far too many people,” Lauridsen said. “Chuck’s unflinching photographs illustrate this epidemic and its devastating human toll.”
Jines described his work as “Grit Street Photography,” a high-contrast, high-grain, black-and-white style of street photography that invokes an emotional, intellectual, social or political response from viewers.
“To me, street photography is more than just taking pretty pictures. At its highest level, street photography is about provoking intellectual and social action. I try to weave art, politics, philosophy and social action into my work,” he said.
The 2015 HERO/HELPS Community Forum also will feature presentations by Dr. Jeff Coady, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Regional Administrator for Illinois, Reps. Lou Lang and Sam Yingling, Will County Executive Larry Walsh and Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow.
This important community forum will provide information to anyone whose life has been affected by heroin or other drug addictions, or those who work with individuals impacted by this crisis, including: parents, siblings, friends, doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, psychologists, teachers, school administrators, prevention/treatment/recovery professionals, law enforcement professionals, lawyers, judges, clergy and other community leaders.
For more information about Chuck Jines, his photography and his exhibit, visit his Web site at www.chuckjines.com.
For more information about the HERO/HELPS Community Forum, visit on the Web atwww.herohelpsevent.com.