EAST LANSING, MI.- Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University hosts The Workers’ Landscape: American Images, 1900-1950, through March 18, 2007. Drawn from the Kresge Art Museum collection, American Images celebrates Americans at work and leisure in the first half of the 20th century. The exhibition features over 70 paintings, prints and photographs organized by themes -- around the farm, company towns, working the waters, time off, and documenting the Thirties. Among the artists in this show are Berenice Abbott, George Wesley Bellows, Ralston Crawford, Charles Scheeler, and Dorothea Lange. This exhibition is made possible with support from the Michigan Council for Art & Cultural affairs.
Early examples contrast an American Impressionist view of the idyllic countryside by Henry Rodman Kenyon with Lewis Hine’s young newsboy, part of his series that exposed child labor abuse. Regionalist artists Thomas Hart Benton and John deMartelly present a romanticized view of farming while documentary photography of the 1930s, part of the Farm Security Administration work programs, offers a more realistic picture of the harsh Depression era. From farm to factory to city, women increasingly entered the work force as shopkeepers, photographed by Jessie Tarbox Beals, and sales girls, portrayed by Isabel Bishop. Entertainers and those who are entertained, captured by Billy Sunday’s fiery sermons or rodeo stars or majorettes, complete the picture of the life of the American worker.
This exhibition and programming is part of a year-long project of the Greater Lansing Museum Collaborative to feature exhibitions and programs about work and workers’ culture. Also part of this project is Working America: Photographs from the Ewing Galloway Agency, 1910-1950, a Kresge Art Museum Exhibition on view February 1–June 17, 2007 at the Michigan Historical Museum , 702 W. Kalamazoo St. , two blocks west of the State Capitol, Lansing.
Programming correlating to American Images includes lectures, films, and a book discussion group, and runs January through early April. Visit www.artmuseum.msu.edu for more information about programs and to preview the exhibition. A free audio tour is available.