Meryl Meisler’s “Purgatory & Paradise: Sassy ’70s, Suburbia & The City” juxtaposes intimate images of home life on Long Island alongside New York City street and night life. Quirky, nostalgic and a bit naughty, the series illustrates places and experiences inextricable from Meisler’s own coming of age: The South Bronx, suburbia, The Mystery Club, dance lessons, Girl Scouts, the Rockettes, the circus, school, mitzvahs, proms, weddings, gay Fire Island, the Hamptons, feminists, happy hookers, CBGB, Punks, Disco, After Hours and Go-Go Bars, Jewish and LGBT Pride, street life, home theatrics, holidays, friendship, family, and love.
Carrying her medium format camera everywhere she went, Meisler photographed the world she knew on Long Island: donning childhood uniforms and costumes for self-portraits, comedic insider views of family and friends’ homes, and the hilarity of her parents’ Mystery Club circle. “Not in mine eyes alone is Paradise,” declares Dante in Paradiso. Many viewed ‘70s New York City as hell—purgatory at best. But with an open mind and heart, Meisler found paradise photographing the city’s streets and nightlife, producing a genuine cultural capsule of an infamous decade in New York history.