Walker Evans-FSA Photography

1074 Words5 Pages
Essay 2

“To be nostalgic is to be sentimental. To be interested in what you see that is passing out of history, even if it’s a trolley car you’ve found, that’s not an act of nostalgia,” says Walker Evans.1 Throughout his photographic career Walker Evans was just that, interested in the history that he lived through. As an FSA photographer, Evans mission was to “introduce America to America” and showcase “the reality of its own time and place in history” says Stryker, the leader of the FSA movement.2 Evans produced images that revealed Americas’ despair in the depression, but also the hope for the future. In the photograph “Alabama Cotton Tenant Farmer Family”, Evans portrays an American farming family during the Great Depression.
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The times were dark and the depression was overwhelming, but the window is bringing in light that is the hope for the future. Most of the faces in the photograph are in the darkness, but the young boy in the front of the photo with the smile on his face is covered in light. The family photographs in the background reveal to the audience the purpose behind the struggle and the pain through the depression. The family just desires to provide for their loved ones. The worn down home suggests the ultimate struggle between the family and the depression that is consuming them. The floorboards are torn revealing the dirt in their home and the single bed is not big enough to sleep all of them, but yet the family perseveres.
“Alabama Cotton Tenant Farmer Family” reveals a family that has nothing but each other. The intrusiveness of the photograph into the home and life of these people reveals the true nature of the rural families in America.4 Evans held nothing back and because of this, viewers of the photo feel like they personally knew this Cotton Tenant Farmer Family. The purpose of FSA photography was to document all aspects of America during the New Deal and the Great Depression and though Evans argues that his photographs are not documents, his photo reveals the true state of farming American families. This makes Evans photo a good FSA photograph in itself, as well as a wonderful
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