• Melanie

An exhibit of a lifetime: Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing

I'd love to pretend this is going to be an objective critique of Dorothea Lange's photography exhibit at the Frist, but this changed my life. I'm going to try to keep the gushing to a minimum; no guarantees.

Let's review the history in these photos: Dorothea Lange photographed the migration from the Dust Bowl to California during the Great Depression as well as the Japanese concentration camps in the United States during World War II. There are also examples of her early photographs, mostly portraits. It's beautiful to see how her style progresses as she refines her point of view and vision.

A closeup of one of Dorothea Lange's Depression-era images at the Frist, 2019

Room one, the beginnings, 2019

The Great Depression photos are heartbreaking. It's impossible to describe the depth and richness of these prints, all taken from large-format negatives. The emotions of the subjects are palpable, and seeing the images of farmland laying empty and unproductive is a foreboding reminder that maybe we need to be doing better by our planet.

A woman observes Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother at Frist Art Museum in Nashville, TN
Seeing the photographic lead up to this photo tells a story I can't replicate; go see this show

The images from the Japanese concentration camps are haunting. The hypocrisy of the US government is on full display. These US citizens were stripped of their homes and livelihood. While not as brutal as the German concentration camps, the concept was the same: you're other, so you're now separate by force.

Photos from the US-based Japanese concentration camp by Dorothea Lange, shown at Frist Art Museum

The most powerful thing about this show is that every single social, economic, and political issue is still relevant today. Eighty to one hundred years later, we're battling the same demons as individuals and as a collective society.


It's up through May 27, 2019

Frist Art Museum - 919 Broadway Nashville, TN 37203

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