Women in Art – Dorthea Lange for Kids

Dorthea Lange took pictures of things that most people didn’t see.

She began her photography career as a successful studio photographer but eventually became interested in making art that was more personal. Art that was relevant to the time in which she lived.

Women in Art - Dorthea Lange for Kids

During the Great Depression, she traveled to see what was happening to people who were often forgotten. She photographed the unemployed and the homeless, migrant workers, and Japanese Americans living in internment camps.

Her photography brought these images out of the shadows and brought awareness to issues that needed attention. Once her photos were published, people were quick to offer help and to change things for the better.

Dorthea Lange, Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936

Dorthea Lange, Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936

Her most famous photo, Migrant Mother, prompted the government to provide immediate assistance to people in the migrant camps. Dorthea spoke about the photo years later…

I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.
— Dorthea Lange

Learn more about Dorthea Lange and her photography by reading some books about her life and her art!

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