Dorothea Lange Essay Migrant Mother

Imogen Cunningham and Minor White also joined the faculty.In 1952, Lange co-founded the photography magazine Aperture.One of Lange's most recognized works is Migrant Mother.

and their subsequent incarceration, traveling throughout urban and rural California to photograph families preparing to leave, visiting several temporary assembly centers as they opened, and eventually highlighting Manzanar, the first of the permanent internment camps.

Much of her work focused on the waiting and uncertainty involved in the removal: piles of luggage waiting to be sorted, families wearing identification tags while awaiting transport.

In December 1935, Lange and Dixon divorced, and she married economist Paul Schuster Taylor, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

For the next five years they documented rural poverty and the exploitation of sharecroppers and migrant laborers.

Lange had an assistant retouch the negative and remove Ms. In the print from the Library of Congress below, the thumb is still in the image’s lower right corner.

Thompson’s thumb from the bottom right corner, much to the chagrin of Roy Stryker, her boss at the Farm Security Administration. Even The New York Times altered the image, including once where “the children had been removed, and the dingy interior of the tent made to appear as wisps of clouds in a bright sky,” Ms. The paper also ran a heavily retouched print on July 26, 1936, shown above, that heightened the contrast between the mother and the background, “minimizing the presence of Thompson’s offending thumb.”Ms.Thompson was not of European descent — as had been commonly assumed — but “a full-blooded Cherokee Indian” from Oklahoma. Meister said, raises the compelling question of whether “Migrant Mother” would have resonated so widely if viewers knew the subjects were Native American.“We have never been a race-blind country, frankly,” Ms. “I wish that I could say that the response would have been the same if everyone had been aware that she was Cherokee, but I don’t think that you can.”Ms. With help from librarians at the San Francisco Public Library, Ms.Meister pieced together how the inaccurate caption information probably came about. Lange filed her pictures to The San Francisco News, a reporter for United Press went to the migrant encampment in Nipomo. Lange — and, apparently, the Thompson family — had left days earlier, her photos were published with the United Press’s reporter’s article. Meister’s book is part of “One on One,” a series in which each volume delves into a single piece in Mo MA’s collection.While that was a fairly common practice at the time, Mr. Meister said she loved “an unsolved mystery,” so searching for the answers of whether “Migrant Mother” was made in February or March 1936, or where the captions came from and why they upset the family, was satisfying.Stryker thought it compromised the authenticity not just of the photo but also of his whole F. But to her, correcting the historical record was especially meaningful.“As a civilization we need to be able to establish facts and still accept that for some people this might represent the pinnacle of motherhood,” she said.But “Dorothea Lange: Migrant Mother,” a new book from the Museum of Modern Art, offers fresh insights as it weaves a compelling tale about some little-explored details. Lange was working for the federal Farm Security Administration, the photo is available to everyone, and it has been used in many ways, including as a postage stamp, a 1,000-piece puzzle and on trinkets, T-shirts, posters and postcards. Thompson wrote to the editor of the Modesto Bee newspaper explaining that she was the woman in the photo — and that she felt exploited because she was never compensated for the image. Unlike with most of her other assignments, there are no known field notes from Ms.Written by Sarah Meister, a photography curator at Mo MA, the book comes out at a time when faces of desperately poor people in migrant caravans dominate the news.“I thought, could there possibly be anything new to say about this picture? Part of why so many people related to the image was, perhaps, the anonymity of this family, which could have been any of millions of Americans suffering through the Great Depression, Ms. A subsequent Associated Press article in The Los Angeles Times revealed that Ms. Lange about this shoot in Nipomo, Calif., and the captions in the Library of Congress are, Ms. Thompson’s relatives have insisted, for example, that they did not sell their tent for food as the captions declared.“For others this might represent the depth of the Depression; and for others this might represent a suppressing of racial identity.Each of those interpretations is perfectly valid so long as we agree on the facts.“I don’t believe there are alternative facts,” she said.Today her photographs of the internment are available in the National Archives on the website of the Still Photographs Division, and at the Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley.In 1945, Ansel Adams invited Lange to teach at the first fine art photography department at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), now known as San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI).


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