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Annointing of saved

Picturing Faith

Religious America in Government Photography, 1935 - 1943


In 1935, the Historical Division of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) began making a photographic survey of economic struggle and social dislocation in Depression era America. The resulting "sociologists with cameras" entered the homes and churches of the poor as well as the middle class. They photographed people in prayer, domestic shrines, dinner graces, parishioners going into their churches, revival meetings, and even the gospel trucks of itinerate preachers. While many of the FSA (and later Office of War Information) photographs are familiar, this is the first exhibition of how government photographers represented religion during this critical time in our nation's history.

Picturing Faith is a unique series of photographs showing the place of religion in American society through the lens of some of America's most well-known photographers: Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks. It also presents the works of equally talented but lesser known photographers: John Collier, Jr. , Marion Post Wolcott, Russell Lee, Jack Delano, and Marjory Collins. Supported by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, the exhibition includes forty-five black-and-white photographs gathered from the FSA/OWI archives of the Library of Congress. Accompanying the photographs are explanatory materials that set the photographs in their historical, artistic, and religious contexts. Viewers will have an opportunity to consider how Americans of the great Depression experienced the divine in their lives.




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Picturing Faith Book

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