Live recording held at the café at AS220 on Empire Street, Providence at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 7, 2012.
The camera, exposing social problems or becoming one?
In 1908, a young teacher and photographer named Lewis Hine was hired by the National Child Labor Committee to document evidence of child labor, primarily on the East Coast and in the South. Hine had previously photographed arriving immigrants at Ellis Island and, even then, his photos showed an extraordinary sensibility filled with respect, dignity, and equality. Hine’s work helped introduce America to the issues of child labor at a time when the glories of industrialization were filling the coffers of the rich while beginning to offer promises of economic advancement for the working class. Hine’s pictures were worth more than a thousand words as he established the camera as an actor in social change. His heirs are many: the Photo League, Sebastião Salgado and perhaps even social documentary filmmakers like Michael Moore. Today, artists continue to bear witness to perceived injustices while prompting post-modern questions about the ‘objectivity’ of the photograph and its makers.
Anthony Lee, Professor of Art History at Mount Holyoke College. He writes mostly on photography and is founder and series editor for Defining Moments in American Photography, published by the University of California Press. He was a panelist on Action Speaks way back in 2005.
Dan Czitrom, Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, where he has taught since 1981 with a focus on recent American cultural and political history. He is the author, most recently, of Rediscovering Jacob Riis: Exposure Journalism and Photography in Turn of the Century New York, a fresh look at the Progressive era social reformer, journalist, and pioneer photographer who publicized the conditions of the desperately poor in New York.
Catherine Evans, Curator of Photography at the Columbus Museum of Art since 1996, and Chief Curator since 2004. In 2001 she spearheaded the acquisition of the most significant photography acquisition in the museum’s history – the Photo League collection. She served as author and curator for The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951, the collaborative exhibition and book, organized by CMA and The Jewish Museum in New York.
- America and Lewis Hine: Photographs 1904-1940, by Walter Rosenblum, Naomi Roseblum and Alan Trachtenberg (Aperture Foundation; 1997)
- Lewis Hine as Social Critic by Kate Sampsell-Willmann (University Press of Mississippi; 2009)
- Lewis Hine by Alison Nordström and Elizabeth McCausland (D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc; 2012)
- The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951 (Jewish Museum), by Mason Klein and Catherine Evans (Yale University Press, 2011)
Now in its seventeenth year, Action Speaks is made possible by generous financial and in-kind support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, AS220, Robinson & Cole, LLP, WGBH 89.7 Boston, RIPBS, and the Providence Phoenix. Action Speaks has been heard on over 175 radio stations across the United States, and is presented by WGBH 89.7 in Boston. If you can’t be at our live taping, you can listen and download each show free from our website ten days following each panel.