migrant mother story :: famine + fame = photog fortune
By modmom on August 28, 2014
"Migrant Mother" story :: famine + fame
"As the United States sank into the Great Depression, a female photographer named Dorothea Lange turned her attention away from studio + portrait work toward the suffering. Taking a Government job as a photographer for the U.S. Resettlement Administration, a New Deal agency tasked with helping poor families relocate, Lange went to California, to a campsite of out-of-work pea pickers. The crop had been destroyed by freezing rain; there was nothing to pick. Lange approached a woman sitting in a tent, surrounded by her 7 children, + asked if she could photograph them. "Migrant Mother" became the iconic photo of the Depression, + one of the most familiar images of the 20th century. At the time, the dust-blown interior of the United States was full of families like hers, whom poverty had forced off their land into a life of wandering. Their poverty was total; they had nothing. Where is her husband, the children's father? She is on her own. There is no help, no protection. There are few images as deeply ingrained in the national consciousness as Migrant Mother. Yet for decades, no one knew what had become of this woman + her family. No one even knew her name: Lange never asked. Finally, in 1978, a reporter from the Modesto Bee found the Migrant Mother in a trailer park outside Modesto, California. Her name was Florence Owens Thompson; she was 75.
American Masters: Dorothea Lange : Grab a Hunk of Lightning, new documentary about "Migrant Mother" photographer :: broadcast premiere this Friday, August 29 on PBS
"Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning documentary explores the life + vision of the influential photographer, whose enduring images document 5 decades of American history. features interviews + vérité scenes with Lange at her San Francisco Bay Area home studio, circa 1962-1965, including work on her unprecedented 1-woman career retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Reveals the camera as Lange’s first muse + the confluence of artists at work + in love, explains the impact of these relationships on Lange’s life, + demonstrates the challenges of balancing artistic pursuits with family."
In 1918, she moved to San Francisco, where she opened a successful portrait studio. She lived in Berkeley. In 1935 she married a Professor of Economics at University of California, Berkeley. Together they documented rural poverty + migrant laborers for 5 years; Lange took the photos, + Taylor interviewed people + collected data.
During World War II she was hired by the U.S. War Relocation Authority to document the internment camps of Japanese-Americans, + by the U.S. State Department to photograph the United Nations Conference in San Francisco. In 1952, she cofounded the photography magazine Aperture."
via new deal photographers
mod*mom Cherokee Citizen + U.S. Citizen
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