Mother. The very word, for most, conjures up the notion of comfort, safety, and unconditional love. This idea of motherhood is capture in Dorothea Lange 's picture, Migrant Mother. When one views the picture, one is struck by the tired look in her eyes and the hope for a better situation down the road. One has to wonder if Dorothea viewed this picture from a psychoanalytic perspective, social or formal analysis when constructing the actual shot. Knowing this adds an even greater depth to an understanding of what the photographer was trying to say, what kind of message she had for the world. Actually, the Migrant Mother is a series of shots that Lange took in 1936 on behalf of the Resettlement Administration. Lange, on commission from this council, followed migrant workers in California for the course of a month 's time, photographing them for a report (Maksel). The 1930 's especially marked the worst economic collapse the United States had ever faced and is typically referred to as the Depression Era. Unemployment was rampant, forcing many to migrate from place to place looking for work. In the case of the woman Dorothea photographed, she was a migrant farm worker. Unfortunately, the economy hit hard for them too, as the soil was exhausted and the dustbowl did not allow for the growth of sizeable crops. Many migrant farm workers whose only source of income and sustenance were devastated by the effects of the Depression. It is debateable as to whether Roosevelt 's New Deal actually did as he proposed, but what it seems to have accomplished was to produce a type of government activism that brought about such additions to the government as Social Security, the FDIC for banks, and relief for these migrant workers. Dorothea and her pictures can be thought to have been of tremendous value and influence during this time.
Though many might disagree, photography can lend itself to the same status as paintings and other such works of art. Consider that done right,
Cited: Maksel, Rebecca "Women Close to the Front: Dorothea Lange"
Smithsonian Magazine March 2002 (online) (2002, November 26) Available:
Ohrn, K. B. Dorothea Lange and the documentary tradition. Louisiana State University Press (1980).