Most Downloaded Photograph in the Library of Congress Archive Comes to the Piedmont Triad, as Reynolda Opens ‘Dorothea Lange’s America’ Sept. 14
Winston-Salem, NC – Reynolda House Museum of American Art will present the work of legendary photographer Dorothea Lange from Sept. 14 through Dec. 30, 2018. The exhibition, “Dorothea Lange’s America,” presents Lange’s haunting photographs of 1930s and 1940s America and features some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Tickets for the exhibition are included in the museum’s $18 admission and available for morning or afternoon. Advance purchase is encouraged at reynoldahouse.org/america.
Throughout the season, Reynolda will invite the public to explore Lange’s art and the themes it evokes through a series of programs, complementary exhibitions at the museum and at Wake Forest University, and a collaboration with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.
“Lange’s documentary photographs appeared in local newspapers, reaching both the masses across middle America and the lawmakers in our nation’s capital, becoming poignant catalysts for social change and, ultimately, highly valued works of art,” says Allison Perkins, Reynolda House executive director. “We identified this exhibition as an opportunity not only to appreciate the artistry of her photographs, but also to draw connections between their subjects and our communities today.”
One of the highlights of the exhibition is the most recognizable photograph of Lange’s career, “Migrant Mother,” made in 1936. Recently named the most downloaded photograph in the Library of Congress’ archive, it is also one of the most arresting images ever created; its ensuing influence on photojournalism is incapable of measurement. The portrait of Florence Owens Thompson with three of her young children became a visual shorthand for the Great Depression and humanized its consequences for the public at large. Upon its original publication in a San Francisco newspaper, the image ignited a massive benevolent response: 20,000 pounds of food was delivered within days to the migrant camp where the photograph was made.
The need for greater awareness and response to persistent poverty in modern day America remains, according to Eric Aft, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank.
“Contemporary poverty looks different from the poverty of Lange’s time, making it sometimes unrecognizable and hard to see,” he says. “But its impacts on children, on seniors, on families and on community health remain the same. We are grateful to work with Reynolda this season to honor these works of art from the 1930s by exploring what they can mean to us in 2018.”
At three after-hours programs at the museum, Reynolda House will waive its paid admission and invite the public to make donations to Second Harvest Food Bank and the museum. Catering throughout the season will be handled by Providence Catering, a social enterprise of Second Harvest’s Providence programs, and the museum’s exhibition brochure will include stories of food insecurity today alongside information about Lange and her subjects from the 1930s. A summary of the season’s programs is below.
Thursday, September 6, 5 p.m.
Reading & Book Signing with Bestselling Children’s Author Carole Boston Weatherford
Free; cash donations to the museum and to Second Harvest Food Bank are welcome.
In “Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression,” Carole Boston Weatherford captures the spirit of Dorothea Lange with lyrical prose intended for children. Weatherford will read from her picture book biography and join in discussion with the audience. Enjoy music and hands-on activities while learning about “Dorothea Lange’s America.” Copies of Weatherford’s book will be available for purchase at the event. This event is presented as part of Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors, the largest annual book festival in the Carolinas, held September 6-9 in Winston-Salem.
Thursdays, September 27 and October 25, museum open until 8 p.m.
Pay-What-You-Wish Thursdays presented by Macy’s
Admission is pay what you wish. Cash donations to the museum and to Second Harvest Food Bank are welcome.
On these two nights at the museum, hours are extended and paid admission is waived as we invite the community into conversation around topics connected to “Dorothea Lange’s America” and join together in fun fall activities. Music, a cash bar, and light refreshments from Second Harvest’s Providence Catering.
September 27, 6 p.m.: With Migrant Mother, Dorothea Lange captured something universal in the face of Florence Owens Thompson, leading generations of observers to empathize with the stranger in the photograph. Local residents who have lived the migrant experience will share their own stories in this program co-presented by the New Winston Museum.
October 25, 5 p.m.: The Crossnore School & Children’s Home brings the pumpkin patch to Reynolda! Paint a masterpiece on a pumpkin just in time for Halloween.
September 28-October 4
Film: “Grab a Hunk of Lightning”
Screenings at a/perture cinema
For showtimes and tickets, visit aperturecinema.com. Reynolda House members will receive the a/perture member rate.
Lange’s enduring images document five turbulent decades of American history, including the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, World War II Japanese American internment camps, and early environmentalism. Yet, few know the story, struggles, and profound body of work of the woman behind the camera. Award-winning cinematographer Dyanna Taylor, Lange’s granddaughter, directed and narrated this intimate documentary that explores Lange’s life, probes the nature of her muses—two great men and the camera itself—and reveals her uncompromising vision.
Saturday, October 6, 3 p.m.
Concert: Hard Times and Hope
Songs of Struggle from the Dust Bowl to the Blue Ridge
$40/$30 members of the museum and students. Tickets include admission to “Dorothea Lange’s America” and are available at reynoldahouse.org/blueridge.
Reynolda partners with the regionally syndicated 88.5 WFDD radio program “Across the Blue Ridge” to present this intimate live performance featuring a Grammy Award-winning co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dom Flemons; bluegrass legend Alice Gerrard; and Appalachian singer Kay Justice. The afternoon performance will focus on the music and stories of the Dust Bowl West and Depression-era Appalachia. Paul Brown, a former NPR journalist, award-winning musician, and host of Across the Blue Ridge, will host the concert with his wife and fellow musician, Terri McMurray. The concert will be recorded for a future broadcast on “Across the Blue Ridge.”
Thursday, October 11, 6 p.m.
Book Talk: “Hard, Hard Religion” with John Hayes
$10/ $8 members of the museum and students/free for Wake Forest University employees
Historian John Hayes examines the ways folk religion in the early 20th century allowed the South’s poor to listen, borrow, and learn from each other about what it meant to live as Christians in a world of severe struggle. Hayes is associate professor of history at Augusta University. This program is presented with the Wake Forest University Department for the Study of Religions.
Thursday, October 18, 6-8 p.m.; gallery open from 5:30-6 p.m.
Migrant Mother, Migrant Gender: Reconsidering Dorothea Lange’s Icon of Maternity, with Sally Stein
$15/$10 members of the museum, students, and members of a/perture cinema
This talk will revisit the great photographic career of Dorothea Lange by offering a new perspective on the making of “Migrant Mother,” her most famous Depression-era image, and its changing reception over the last eight decades. Stein is professor emerita of art history & film and media studies at University of California, Irvine, and the author of the essay “Peculiar Grace: Dorothea Lange and the Testimony of the Body,” published in “Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life.”
October 21, 28, November 4; 2 p.m.
Sunday Afternoon Film Series
$15/film; $40 for the series
The Depression era was one the most significant periods in film history, producing numerous masterpieces and changing the role of filmmaking and movie-going in American life. As hardship led average citizens to seek refuge in movie houses across the country, filmmakers provided that escape, often presenting sharp critiques of the world around them. In this three-week series, a local film scholar will introduce a screening of, and provide commentary following, three Depression-era films.
October 21: “Sullivan’s Travels” with Angus MacLachlan, screenwriter and director
October 28: “I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang” with Dale Pollock, filmmaker, writer, and professor of cinema studies and distinguished scholar at University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking
November 4: “The Grapes of Wrath” with David Lubin, the Charlotte C. Weber Professor of Art at Wake Forest University
Complementary Exhibition on view through Dec. 30
“After Documentary: Photography, 1980-Present”
What can we know from a photograph? When photography was introduced to the public in 1839, commentators immediately praised its ability to provide an accurate representation of people and events. This belief in the ability of the photograph to show us the world as it is led to the idea of documentary photography and, by the 1930s, artists such as Dorothea Lange used the camera as a tool to explore social situations and create a record of lived experience. Yet, the photograph is always prone to manipulation—the staging of a subject or darkroom techniques—made even easier through use of digital cameras and programs such as Photoshop. Drawn from the art collection of Wake Forest University and curated by Wake Forest students, the photographs in this exhibition complicate or question the legacy of documentary photography. They examine photography’s relation to reality as well as its ability to create alternate realities.
Complementary Exhibition Opening October 29
“Walker Evans: Landscapes in Transition”
The Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery at Wake Forest University
“Walker Evans: Landscapes in Transition” will gather a collection of photographs, newly printed from the archives of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., that demonstrate both the formal and social intelligence of the artist. Taken at the height of the Great Depression in the mid-1930s under the auspices of the Farm Security Administration, Evans’s images chart an America in the process of transformation: the idiosyncratic architecture and hand-drawn commercial signage of the American South was giving way to the standardization associated with modern life, of which photography itself played a role. The exhibition will also address decidedly local concerns, featuring photographs Evans took in Winston-Salem.
Reynolda, in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a rare gem among the nation’s cultural institutions and historic greenspaces. The 50-year-old museum at the center of Reynolda’s 180 acres, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, presents a renowned art collection in a historic and incomparable setting: the original 1917 interiors of the country manor of R. J. Reynolds. Spanning 250 years, the collection is an uncompromisingly selective one, a chronology of American art, with each artist represented by one work of major significance. Highlights are: Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Frederic Edwin Church, Stuart Davis, Martin Johnson Heade, Alex Katz, Lee Krasner, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singer Sargent and Grant Wood. The collection was assembled by the unerring eye of Barbara Babcock Millhouse, granddaughter of R. J. and Katharine Reynolds. The Reynolda experience includes a free app called Reynolda Revealed; touring exhibitions in the museum’s Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing; formal gardens, conservatory and walking trails of Reynolda Gardens; and more than 25 of the estate’s original buildings repurposed as shops and restaurants in Reynolda Village. Reynolda, located at 2250 Reynolda Road, is adjacent to Wake Forest University. For more information, please visit reynolda.org. Connect at facebook.com/rhmaa and @CurateReynolda.