Hartnell Gallery exhibit offers glimpse of rural pre-war poverty

Publish Date: 
Feb 28, 2019

An exhibit of photographs by Dorothea Lange and Marion Post Wolcott, women who documented pre-war rural American poverty for the U.S. Farm Security Administration (FSA), will continue through Feb. 28 in the Hartnell Gallery on the first floor of Building J.

On display are 42 black-and-white images selected from Hartnell’s collection of more than 200 FSA works, shot from 1935-44 to promote federal spending on agricultural modernization. The exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. weekdays and 5-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday in the first-floor gallery of the Visual Arts Building (J). Admission is free.

Most familiar among the silver gelatin prints is “Migrant Mother,” which Lange took in 1936 of a distressed woman and her three children at a camp of impoverished workers in Nipomo, Calif. Displayed around it are several others Lange took while approaching the family group. In this context, it’s evident the mother is reacting to the sudden attention, touching her chin as her two toddler girls shyly turn away.