The Farm Securities Administration (FSA) was created by President Roosevelt in 1935 as part of the New Deal in an effort to combat poverty during The Great Depression. As part of the program, the government hired a group of photographers to go out and document what was happening across America. Not only was this an unprecedented undertaking by the American government, but it resulted in some of the most influential and compelling photographs, ultimately propelling the art of “street photography” into the limelight and inspiring a new generation of art.
Among the most famous photographers to come out of the FSA are Walker Evans and Dorthea Lang whose photographs are shown here. The work they did was not only striking, but was instrumental in bringing about change in governmental policy during this difficult time in the US. Lang filled countless notebooks with her images, notes and quotes from the people she met and sent them back to Washington to serve as her “reports.”
In fact, Lang went on to create a lifetime of compelling works, long past her time at the FSA. Her work, and the work of the other FSA photographers remains a source of inspiration to me and many others. There is also a great documentary out about the life of Dorthea Lang called Grab A Hunk Of Lightening, created by her niece as part of the PBS American Masters series. A coffee table book of the same name was published in 2013 by Chronicle Books.