Today’s economic climate and the 2012 summer drought recall a time almost a century ago when the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the Southwest changed American society. The F.S.A. (Farm Security Administration) sent a number of photographers across the country to document the plight of American farmers and depressed urban areas. Many of these images are famous today for the harsh reality that they documented which in turn spurred a movement of American artists focused on social realism.
The F.S.A. was established in 1935 as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and was given the mission to support small farmers and restore land and communities damaged by the Depression. The photographers employed under the F.S.A. (which also included Charlotte Brooks, Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, John Vachon, and Marion Post Wolcott) produced images that greatly impacted how both policy-makers and the general public understood the Depression.
Today in 2012, in the midst of a digital era where Americans are bombarded with flashy images and air brushed pictures, we still see a number of photographers who turn their lenses to the ordinary, outcast or misunderstood parts of contemporary culture. These new social realists present an original look at the people, places and objects that make up a significant aspect of contemporary society.
This exhibition focuses on F.S.A. photographs in conjunction with contemporary photography that in many ways parallel each other. The common subject matter takes on a variety of forms. Portraits, landscapes and everyday objects all share a unity in a tribute to Realism and American culture.
The exhibition includes F.S.A. Photographers Horace Bristol, Jack Delano, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Marion Post Wolcott, and Arthur Rothstein and contemporary photographers Debbie Grossman, Josh Lehrer, Zoe Strauss, and Emma Wilcox.