Photo Gallery: Alyssha Eve Csük Finds Beauty in Decay

A photographer returns to the steel town of her youth to turn her lens on an abandoned industrial giant.

Gallery
Image

Weekly Newsletter

The best of The Saturday Evening Post in your inbox!

SUPPORT THE POST

For more of Alyssha Eve Csük’s photography, read our profile from the July/August issue.

Alyssha Eve Csük grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, home of one of the largest steel mills in the world, Bethlehem Steel. Her grandfather worked at the mill for 36 years, until his death. Years later, the ruins of the sleeping giant excited her imagination, and the photographer returned to turn her lens on the abandoned industrial giant that Csük has called “an emerald city of jewels.”

In a brief interview, Csük talked about her work transforming industrial ruins into abstract art.

 

The Saturday Evening Post: What sparked your interest in the project?

Alyssha Eve Csük: As an artist, I am fascinated by places that embody bygone industry, in particular sites where I can explore the ravages of time. And I am charmed by the industrial era — the design and form components, along with the history and overall more simple way of life.

 

Image
Blast Furnace D III
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Germantown, North Carolina, I
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Blast Furnace D VIII
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

AEC: During my first days exploring the defunct Bethlehem Steel mill, I was immediately drawn to the colors, the patinas. I found that the erosive effects of the elements transformed the facades of the mill, slate, and scrap into textural canvases. To me these textural surfaces are similar to moss, where colors are more alive and vibrant after a good rain. Often, the shimmering surfaces seemed to whisper at me. I’d see these colorful patinas and find in them what seemed like watercolor or oil portraits.

 

Rust
Blast Furnace B VI
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Blast Furnace E I
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Homer City, Pennsylvania, XVI
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

SEP: How do you discover beauty in decay, restore life to the lifeless?

AEC: Careful study, patience, observation, and a natural instinct for strong design enabled me to capture painterly abstract photographs that lay bare unlikely beauty in unexpected places. The images are all straight photography — no manipulation.

 

Rust
McDonald, Ohio, I
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Blast Furnace E X
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
McDonald, Ohio, II
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

AEC: My photographs embody the Japanese aesthetic concept of Wabi-Sabi — a worldview centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection — particularly the Sabi part, which means “the bloom of time.” It connotes a natural progression of an extinguished gloss that once sparkled — beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear.

 

Rust
Blast Furnace E XIII
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Glass Engine Blowing House II
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Glass Engine Blowing House II
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

SEP: What is your next project?

AEC: I will continue to work on a project called Treescapes — trees in the landscape all shot on film with a Linhof 617. And I may be getting access to a NASA launch pad site — I am absolutely fascinated by anything to do with space exploration.

 

Rust
Blast Furnace E III
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Germantown, North Carolina, II
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Bangor, Pennsylvania, I
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Hoover-Mason Trestle I
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

Rust
Homer City, Pennsylvania, VII
Courtesy Alyssha Eve Csük

 

See more of Csük’s work at csukphotography.com.

Read about Jonathan Waldman’s adventure with Csük as they ventured over the fence to explore the Bethlehem Steel Works in “Rust: Photography Adventures in an Abandoned Steel Mill. Available online August 8, from the July/August 2017 issue of the Post.  

Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now

Comments

  1. I have seen this artist’s work beautifully framed and displayed in various Class A office space and the Sands Casino in the Lehigh Valley, Pa. Where her art is on display, there is serenity.

  2. I would like to suggest that anyone interested read “Rust”. Great book and my introduction to the artist.

  3. Truly a talent here!!, Her work is amazing. It’s leads your imagination off into a world of beauty and who would think theses hidden gems are found on steel. Another Picasso on the rise.

  4. Ms. Csuk’s ability to turn industrial ruin into such wondrous abstract photographic art is astonishing. Blast Furnace D III has a beautiful autumn field look to it. I see human images in the pink & orange Germantown, N. Carolina I and a field from another planet in Blast Furnace B VI.

    Could Blast Furnace EX be hiding a polar bear and a pre-historic animal? Blast Furnace E XIII has an accidental Salvador Dali look to it, while in E III I see a beautiful green forest with well-done bacon strips in the foreground.

    In Bangor PA I there appears to be other-worldly creatures falling into a strange type of ocean, while Home City PA VII looks like a waters edge sea town, all lit up like the Twin Towers monument at night.

  5. Very interesting! I never thought such colors in a steel mill would be so beautiful. Great work!

  6. AMAZING VARIETY….BETTER THAN THE USUAL ATTEMPTS AT BEWILDERING ART. GREAT COLOR, INTERESTING SHAPES, AWESOME.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *