Color Photographs from a Black–and–White Period

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Tracy Greene
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Jessica Poole
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Release date: 
August 10, 2006

FORT WORTH, Texas --- On September 2, the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth presents Bound for Glory: America in Color, an exhibition of 70 digital prints made from color transparencies taken from 1939 through1943. Stored in a drawer at the Library of Congress, these remarkable images were all but forgotten until an enterprising researcher uncovered them in the 1970s. This is the first major exhibition of these significant images taken by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI).

Bound for Glory: America in Color presents a period in American history that has typically been seen only in black and white. These vivid full-color portraits capture the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small-town populations, the nation’s tireless efforts to overcome economic challenges and its patriotic response to mobilization for World War II.

“These engaging images offer a vibrant look at the country during a time of momentous change. Captured just after the invention of color film, the photographs make me feel as if I am standing there with the photographers, relishing with them the vibrant colors of clothing, lipstick, airplanes and peaches,” said Senior Curator of Photographs John Rohrbach.

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 was intended to spur Congress and the American public to support government relief efforts. 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 purpose, provide a broader national record.

The photographs in Bound for Glory, many by famed photographers such as Jack Delano, Russell Lee, John Vachon, and Marion Post Wolcott, document not only the subjects in the pictures but also the dawn of a new era---the Kodachrome era---marking a historic divide in visual presentation between the monochrome world of the pre modern age and the brilliant hues of the present.

Bound for Glory is a Library of Congress exhibition. This exhibition will close on November 12 and travel to the University of Kentucky Art Museum in Lexington, Kentucky. Admission is free.

Opening at the Carter on September 16 is another major photography exhibition Regarding the Land: Robert Glenn Ketchum and the Legacy of Eliot Porter.

The Star-Telegram is the official print sponsor of the Amon Carter Museum.