The Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph has had a Dorothea Lange exhibit running from just before Thanksgiving. Due to end Sunday January 10th, I really wanted to see it. I finally was able to go yesterday, along with two of my friends. Having never been to this museum, I was also interested in what it was like.
I was impressed. While a smallish place, the museum was wonderful, with the staff that was working, more than eager to answer questions. While I have been a big fan of Lange’s work, I had never seen any in person. I was not disappointed. It was a wonderful show.
On display was not only a lot of her work, but work of several of her contemporaries. A second exhibit showed work an FSA photographer had done in Berrien County Michigan during the late 1930’s.
While her most well know work, “Migrant Mother”, photograph was there, I personally was fascinated by the piece showing a line of men outside a church.
Entitled “The Church is Full”, it was taken in 1954 near Inagh, County Clare, Ireland. I could not stop wondering about the somber faces staring at the camera, from the boy near the door, to the men at the right side of the photograph.
The overall tone of the way the photograph was printed struck me as well. From the richness of the blacks to the apparent sharpness of the windows, I just could not get past this photograph. I kept going back to it.
There was also work that I had both seen and not seen exhibited. I noticed a lot of themes in her work that are still being talked about today. Whether it’s the disparity of the wealthy versus the poor, or people just trying to survive in a society, it appears some things never change.
It’s one thing to see a replication of a photographers work in a book or magazine, but another thing to see it in person. Especially with work printed in the older analog photography methods. Like silver gelatin, or platinum. Recreations rarely do it justice.
One of her contemporaries was Walker Evans. Another photographer I like. There were several prints of his on display as well. This one above, was one of my favorites, another photograph I had a hard time getting past.
I got the impression that this was a traveling exhibit. If you have a chance to see it, go.