More American Photographs

More American Photographs is currently an exhibit on display currently in the MCA Denver. I travelled down to Denver over this last week to visit this very interesting exhibition. The exhibit was filled with various artists who all took a different take on how the think American photographs can be captured. Walking into the MCA I was immediately confronted with ‘More American Photographs”. The selection of photographs ranges from 1935-1944 and are a part of the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal created the FSA. He believed that this program would create relief, recovery, and reform during the difficult years of the Great Depression.  Forty photographers were hired to capture the “third of the nation” and in turn developed a new style of photography that displays extreme realisms. Nearly 250,000 images were taken during the FSA’s nine years of running, many of which have become famous icons of the Depression.


Twelve photographers are showcased in the exhibit that has been in place due to the similarities in the financial times between today and the Great Depression. Every type of subject can been seen through out the photographs including men, women, children, people from rural areas, and people from urban areas. The main idea that the artists were interested in viewing was the everyday life; and the change that the Great Depression but upon the people of the nation. The artists traveled across the country in order to gain the great variation that they desired in their photos. The photos were published in newspapers across the nation as well as national magazines including Life and Fortune.


Dorothea Lange is an artist of which I have seen previous works and when I saw that she was a part of this exhibition I was more than excited. My eye was immediately drawn to Migrant Mother, a piece I first became familiar with in high school. Looking into the gaze that the mother is putting off hits me right in the pit of my stomach. The emotion that she expresses through her eyes, cheeks, lips, and body language are captured impeccably as I am able to feel sympathy for her because it is almost as if I am able to feel her emotions with her. She is in a place of struggle; for herself as well as the children hanging over her shoulder and those not pictured in the frame. The photographed was captured in Early 1936 in Nipomo, California according to the Library of Congress’s Prints & Photographs Reading Room.


Sarah Lockhart’s piece, Visalia Livestock Market, is a picture that I found to be very interesting because I was not something I would have normally been drawn too. Lockhart spent much of her time taking photographs of cattle ranchers and attending cattle auctions in California. The photograph shows the reality of life that so many of the cattle ranchers live in the nearly billion-dollar industry. The ranchers are seated upon bright blue belchers inside of a livestock market. Their faces display a determined and intellectual look as they are most likely looking over many different cattle and deciding if a purchase should be made once the auction begins. I thoroughly enjoy this piece because it is a depiction of the cattle ranchers and their families in their natural stomping grounds without any of the glamour or drama of life.

Katy Grannan is part of the new commissions in the exhibit. She took an interest in Dorothea Lange’s work and even traveled along Route 99 in California, which followed Lange’s path. The images the Grannan captures have a shocking similarity to Lange’s work, as the area has not seen very much change throughout the decades. Grannan uses vibrate colors in her portraits, my favorite of which Untitled, Bakersfield California, enhances the photograph allowing the details to stand out from the background. The image captures a father and his daughter sharing a gaze out to the future. This image has striking similarities to Migrant Mother, as the daughter clings to her father with a look of hope that she longs for her father to fulfill. The father seems to realize that his daughter needs the comforting and also depicts a look of worry wondering how he can make his little daughters dream come true. I share a very strong bond with my father and father daughter relationships always have a soft spot in my heart.


I am very glad to have travelled down to Denver to visit the MCA, a both a chance to escape Boulder and to experience such great new art.




4 Responses

  1. This exhibition review did a really good job of describing how it made her feel as a viewer, and the emotions the photographs conjured up. You also did a really good job of physically describing the pieces that you liked. I enjoyed reading this paper

  2. It is amazing that you were able to see Migrant Mother, and I will have to go and see it myself. I believe that everyone that has seen that photo is emotionally affected. Even after knowing that Dorothea Lange staged some of the people in the photographs, I still get the same emotions.

  3. I love Dorothea Lange! I think you did a great job constructing this paper and informing the audience about your experience visiting this particular exhibition. As I am an amateur photograph,you have inspired me go and check out these photos.

  4. I thought you did a great job of describing this exhibition. I was able to get a real feel for her work by your descriptions. You were able to portray how the work made you feel rather than just simply what it looked like and what the layout was.

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