San Francisco, Calif., September 1, 2011--The CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts will present the exhibition More American Photographs from October 4 through December 17, 2011, in the Logan Galleries of California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco. The exhibition is curated by Jens Hoffmann, director of the Wattis Institute. It is free and open to the public, with an opening reception on Tuesday, October 4, from 6-8 p.m.
As the United States slowly recovers from its most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression, the Wattis Institute reexamines the well-known 1935-44 photography program of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), which employed such iconic artists as Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, Dorothea Lange, and Marion Post Wolcott. Inspired by their example, the Wattis commissioned 12 contemporary photographers to travel the United States, documenting its land and people. In the exhibition, the new images will be presented alongside a number of photographs by the FSA photographers.
The FSA was implemented as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, a program that sought to create relief, recovery, and reform after the devastating years of the Great Depression. Over a period of almost nine years, headed by Roy Stryker, director of the Historical Section, the FSA employed a number of photographers, tasking them with bringing to light the “third of a nation” that President Roosevelt defined as “ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.” Many of the 250,000 FSA photographs have endured and become iconic. Stryker prepared the photographers with shooting scripts, listing all of the subjects he wanted pictures of for his famous “file”: “chicken dinners,” “18th Amendment,” “corner drug store.” These notes led to incredibly thorough and engaging photographic documentation of American culture and habits in the 1930s and 1940s. The Wattis Institute employed Stryker’s scripts and borrowed from his methodology to brief the contemporary photographers.