Happy Birthday Dorothea Lange

No, that’s not Dorothea Lange. If you don’t recognize the name you’ll recognize this photograph she took. Dorothea Lange, born this day 1895, was one of several photographers hired by the U.S. government to document the Depression. Created in 1935 as part of the New Deal, the Farm Security Administration was set up to combat rural poverty. The FSA had a highly influential photography program meant to portray the effects and challenges of the Depression on rural America. Photographers, such as Walker Evans, Gordon Parks and Dorothea Lange, were given assignments, often scripted and specific, sometimes allowing the photographer freedom, to document the rural poor to show the progress of the government programs. Dorothea Lange’s photograph became the icon of the program, published in newspapers and magazines around the country and helped relate “people to the land and vice versa,” said Roy Stryker, the program’s chief. And what did Dorothea say? “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” and “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” and “… put your camera around your neck along with putting on your shoes, and there it is, an appendage of the body that shares your life with you.” and “…Art is a by-product of an act of total attention.” Dorothea’s work broadly defined the documentary photograph genre, influencing and inspiring several generations of clickers. Not dead/Dead since October 11, 1965.

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Filed under Art Actions, Momentous Day, Pioneers, Prairie People

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