This exhibition may now be viewed online.
American Images, drawn from the Kresge Art Museum collection, 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.
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, portrayed by Billy Sunday’s fiery sermons or rodeo stars or majorettes, complete the picture of the life of the American worker.
GALLERY WALK: The Workers’ Landscape – Tuesday, January 23, 12:10 p.m.
Kresge Art Museum.
LECTURES: Thursday, February 22, 7 p.m. – 108 KAC
Lecture by Howard Bossen, Professor of Journalism, Adjunct Curator
Our Daily Work/Our Daily Lives Spring 2007 Brown Bag Series:
Coordinated by the Michigan Traditional Arts Program (MSU Museum) and the Labor Education Program (LEP).
Programs are at 12:15-1:30 p.m. in the MSU Museum Auditorium
American Images and the Workers’ Landscape – Monday, March 12. Lecture by Susan J. Bandes, Director, Kresge Art Museum.
Life and Work in the Shadow of the Verlinden Plant: The UAW Local 602 Oral History Project – Friday, April 6. Lecture by Doug Rademacher, UAW Local 602.
FILMS: Grapes of Wrath (1940) 129 minutes
Tuesday, January 16, 2 p.m. Capital Area District Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave, Lansing, 517.367.6363
The migration of the Joad family to California from their dust-bowl farm in Oklahoma during the Great Depression is depicted in this immortal film of the Steinbeck classic. Stars Henry Fonda. Directed by John Ford.
On the Waterfront (1954) 107 minutes
Thursday, January 18, 2 p.m. Capital Area District Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave, Lansing, 517.367.6363
An ex-fighter gets a job working on the gang-ridden waterfront under a crooked gangster boss. Stars Marlon Brando. Directed by Elia Kazan.
Harlan County, USA (1976) 103 minutes
Friday, March 16, 7 p.m. MSU Libraries Friday Night Film Series – MSU Main Library, W449
Director Barbara Kopple lived among miners and their families periodically during four years surrounding the organizing of Harlan County, Kentucky, workers who wanted to join The United Mine Workers, and a major miners strike which occurred 1973-4. Winner of the 1976 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. This film will be introduced by Professor John Beck, Professor of Labor & Industrial Relations, MSU. Information 517.353.8700 or www.lib.msu.edu/events/films.htm
BOOK DISCUSSION: The Dollmaker - Tuesday, February 27, 7–9 p.m. – North Gallery, Kresge Art Museum
Pauline Adams, Associate Professor Emerita, MSU Department of American Thought and Language.
Join Pauline Adams for a discussion of Harriette Arnow’s 1954 classic, The Dollmaker. Set against the backdrop of World War II, Arnow’s main character, Gert Nevel, goes from being a multi-skilled farm wife in Kentucky to being a dependent woman lacking the ordinary skills of urban life when the family moves to Detroit so that her husband can work in the factories turning out the products of war. The family’s painful but ultimately satisfactory adjustment is insightfully explored in this compassionately written novel. Participants are required to read The Dollmaker before attending the discussion. Pre-registration is required and space is limited to 25. Call the museum at 517.353.9834 to reserve your spot. The book is available for purchase at a reduced rate in the museum gift shop.