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Biography

In 1986, at age sixteen, Verene began photographing his family's hometown of Galesburg, Illinois, and has since documented the lives of its people through a factual yet sympathetic lens for over thirty years. In 2009, Verene began video-recording the same characters he had photographed since the late 1980s. Of these videos and photographs, all shown under the blanket title, "Home Movies," the New York Times wrote: “Made with low-budget cameras, it’s a riveting, sad and sometimes comical series of short, documentary portraits of poor, white working-class people getting by…” (2014).


Verene’s documentary photographs are represented in many major museum collections including The Whitney, The Met, The Jewish Museum, The Walker Art Center, The LA MOCA, The SF MoMA, The J. Paul Getty Museum, and are the subject of two major books from Twin Palms Publishers. He is the recipient of a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography.  Though "Home Movies" is unreleased, seven short films that form the foundation of this project were screened at Postmasters Gallery and the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2015, and are now in the permanent collection of The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Verene has been profiled in major publications such as Vanity Fair, Art Forum, Parkett, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vogue L'Hommes, and many others. Verene is also an accomplished musician, recording and touring with artists such as The Indigo Girls, The Rock*A*Teens, and Ani Cordero. Verene also works under the pseudonym Cheri Nevers, a performative alter-ego who takes glamorous photographs of ordinary people as part of a “Self-Esteem Salon.” Verene created the persona, which involves dressing in drag, with the intention of making people “look fantastic" and feel beautiful and empowered.

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