Dorothea Lange: Migrant Mother 8''x10''
SKU ID #292619
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"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." (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).
Whatever the woman, Florence Owens Thompson, thought of Lange's actions at the time, she came to regret that Lange ever made the photographs, which she felt permanently colored her with a "Grapes of Wrath" stereotype. Thompson, a Native American from Oklahoma, had already lived in California for a decade when Lange photographed her. The immediate popularity of the images in the press did nothing to alleviate the financial distress that had spurred the family to seek seasonal agricultural work. Contrary to the despairing immobility the famous image seems to embody however, Thompson was an active participant in farm labor struggles in the 1930s, occasionally serving as an organizer. Her daughter later commented, "She was a very strong woman. She was a leader. I think that's one of the reasons she resented the photo--because it didn't show her in that light."