Bound for Glory: America in Color is the first major exhibition of the little known color images taken by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI). Comprised of seventy digital prints made from color transparencies taken between 1939 and 1943, the exhibition reveals a surprisingly vibrant world that has typically been viewed only in black & white. These vivid scenes and portraits capture the effects of the Depression on America's rural and small town populations, the nation's subsequent economic recovery and industrial growth, and the country's great mobilization for World War II.
The pictures in Bound for Glory, many by famed photographers such as John Vachon, Jack Delano, Russell Lee, and Marion Post Wolcott, document not only the subjects in the pictures, but also the dawn of a new era...the Kodachrome era. These colorful images mark a historic divide in visual presentation between the monochrome world of the pre-modern age and the brilliant hues of the present. They change the way we look—and think about—our past.
Approximately one dozen photographers were employed by the Farm Security Administration (FSA), and its successor agency, the Office of War Information (OWI), from 1935 through 1944. The original goal of the government project was to record through documentary photographs the ravages of the Depression on America's rural population and were intended to spur Congress and the American public to support government relief efforts. Over the years, with an improved economy, increased industrialization, and the onset of World War II, the photographs increasingly focused on an America that was productive, beautiful, and determined. The photographs originally intended to have a narrow focus developed into a noteworthy broader national record.
In additions to their documentary and historic value, the color images in the FSA/OWI Collection provide a remarkable opportunity to study the early use of color film as it was employed by a dedicated group of professional photographers. It is revealing to compare monochrome and color images taken on the same shoot, or to identify particular landscapes or subjects that caught the photographer's eye in such a way that he or she chose to use the medium of color to best represent their essence. (Library of Congress)
Posted by: DAVID EMERICK