Yvette Marie Dostatni


Willis Grieger, a Chesterton, Indiana farmer and folk artist, with a concrete companion he made. Behind his barn is another of his creations, a man falling from a telephone pole.

You’ve got to love someone who is a little bit Harper Lee, a little bit Martin Parr, and a lot, Yvette Dostatni. I featured some of Yvette’s wonderful work on Lenscratch way back when, and was delighted to discover that she would be accompanying me to China for the Lishui Photography Festival last November. Curator Sarah Hadley of Filter Photo Festival selected two photographers to bring to the event (Yvette and me), and it allowed for an opportunity to spend time with someone who lives in another part of the country.

Yvette began her photo career at the ripe old age of 18, where she talked her way onto the staff of a newspaper. For the past twenty years, she has been talking her way into all sorts of situations, capturing humanity as only she can. Her work has appeared in SPIN, Smart Money magazine, Shape magazine and National Geographic. She is a frequent contributor to the Chicago Tribune Magazine, Chicago Magazine and The Chicago Reader.

In 2000, she was selected as one of eight full-time photographers to document the city of Chicago as part of the Comer Foundation. She is also the winner of numerous documentary photography awards, including two consecutive Magazine Photographer of the Year awards for portraiture. Yvette’s portfolio is in the Permanent Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago and The Museum of Contemporary Photography’s Midwest Photographers Project in Chicago.

Images from Portraits


Kimberly Abrego and Leon Leckavici, homecoming queen and king at the Whiting, Indiana High School, with the school mascot, portrayed by Abel Aguilera, reflecting the industry most associated with Whiting:oil refining.


Music teacher A.J. Romba at Crestone Music School in Hammond, Indiana, its walls filled with photos of students Romba has taught since 1937.


Larry Gabor and Jeanette Dostatni with Larry’s gun collection.


Matilda with her ferret and friend Charlie on top of Matilda’s apartment roof in Chicago, Illinois.


Clara Kolb and her kitten Snowball in Saltillo, Mississippi. Clara is wearing the ballgown she hopes to wear when she wins a future 6th grade beauty queen pageant. Clara is wearing her older sister’s crown.

Maxwell Street: Before succumbing to the renovation and upward mobility in the new millennium, Chicago’s Maxwell Street was home to a large homeless polulation, many of whom stayed at Maxworks, 717 W. Maxwell Street.


Lewis “Bubble” Tucker has no money for tobacco, so he smokes wax paper, which creates a lot of smoke. He has lived in his car for about 15 years. He says he’d been living on Maxwell Street for about 50 years. “I don’t go nowhere else ever since I was about 10 years old. This (the car) is like a clubhouse, somewhere to sleep.”


A blues musician plays in the lot outside 717 W. Maxwell Street.


Tyner White’s feet dangle from the rafters of the home he lived in at 717 W. Maxwell St. called “Maxworks.”


Of his Clue board game, Lewis “Bubble” Tucker says, “This here? This picture? This is a rich picture. This is how white people live, know what I mean?”


Avi and Tyner White store stuff in a hole under the sidewalk of the home at 717 W. Maxwell Street called “Maxworks.”


Art gets ready to leave the house he lived in called “Maxworks” at 717 W. Maxwell Street.