Conservatory Credit: Todd Diederich

Photographer Todd Diederich grew up in Chicago’s 1990s skateboard subculture, spent six years living in a punk house in Athens, Georgia, and documents Chicago’s gay, black underground ballroom scene. Clearly, he’s attracted to the fringe. At once whimsical and harsh, his photos capture everything from threadbare street carnivals in LaGrange to police arrests during the Puerto Rican People’s Parade in Humboldt Park. Diederich’s first solo show, “We,” illuminates the diverse urban ecosystems he’s so closely observed over the past few years.

On a formal level, Diederich says, “We” is about “some sort of freedom. I used to try and give as much information as possible with each image I took. Now I’m trying to show the world in a more textured and open way.” Among the pieces in the show is a photo of a woman’s legs dangling over the edge of her second-story window as she holds a sparkler out to the street. Window curtains cloak her face and torso, and she seems suspended over the empty sidewalk. “One summer I lived in a tree house in Kentucky, and it was a place I felt relatively free,” Diederich recalls. “That’s what I’m trying to capture with my pictures.”