Lewis Hine is widely recognized as an American original whose work has been cited as a precursor to modernist and documentary photography. While certain of Hine's photographic projects—such as on immigration, child labor, New York City, and the building of the Empire State Building—are well known, few exhibitions have considered his entire life's work. The aim of Lewis Hine is to provide a broad overview of his photographic career, using supplementary material to situate the photographs in the contexts of their original consumption while providing a platform for reconsidering the work today—both historically and artistically. The exhibition includes Hine's earliest work from Ellis Island (1905) and extensive selections from every major project that followed, including "Hull House," "American Red Cross in Europe," and "Men at Work."
The Future of America: Lewis Hine's New Deal Photographs
Among the least known but most prescient photographs taken by social documentary photographer Lewis Hine were those he made as chief photographer for the National Research Project (NRP), a division of the federal government's Works Project Administration (WPA) founded in late 1935. The goal of the NRP was to investigate recent changes in industrial technologies and to assess their effects on future employment. In over 700 photographs, taken in industrial towns throughout the Northeast in 1936 and 1937, Hine revealed not only working conditions in aging industrial factories, but also in new industries and productive workplaces. The NRP published hundreds of reports illustrated with Hine's photographs on a broad variety of agricultural, manufacturing, and mining activities. His works captured the look of labor and industry in transition, while the entire NRP story provides provocative parallels to today’s economic challenges.
JFK November 22, 1963: A Bystander's View of History
When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, the event and its aftermath were broadcast to a stunned nation through photography and television. Reporters used dramatic spot news photographs by professional photojournalists as well as snapshots by unsuspecting witnesses to explain the events: the shooting of the President, the hunt for the assassin, the swearing in of the new President, the widow's grief, the funeral, the shooting of Oswald. Viewers interpreted these photographs in various ways: to comprehend the shocking news, to negotiate their grief, to attempt to solve the crime. The combination of personal photographs assuming public significance and subjective interpretations of news images disrupted conventional views of photography as fact or evidence. JFK November 22, 1963: A Bystander's View of History examines the imaginative reception of these iconic photographs.
Zoe Strauss: 10 Years
For a decade between 2001 and 2010, Philadelphia photographer Zoe Strauss showed her photographic works once a year in a public space beneath an I-95 highway overpass in South Philadelphia. In these annual one-day exhibitions, Strauss mounted her color photographs to the concrete bridge supports and viewers could buy photocopies for five dollars. Through portraits and documents of houses and signage, Strauss looked unflinchingly at the economic struggles and hardscrabble lives of residents in her own community and other parts of the United States. She describes her work as "an epic narrative about the beauty and struggle of everyday life." Strauss, a self-taught photographer and political activist, sees her work as a type of social intervention, and she has often used billboards and public meetings as venues. This exhibition is a mid-career retrospective and the first critical assessment of her decade-long project.