Project Description

Lumber mill worker, Lowell, VT, 1937
Arthur Rothstein, photographer

Ground, A Reprise of Photographs from the FSA by
Bill McDowell

Now on view

On view in the John T. Harrison Jr. Orientation Hall of the Bennington Museum is Ground, A Reprise of Photographs from the FSA by Bill McDowell. The Photography Division of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) documented rural communities throughout America during the Great Depression. Directed by Roy Stryker, the division created thousands of powerful photographs including some of the most iconic images of the era. However, many of the negatives were “killed” by Stryker, often without any apparent reason.

Ground, A Reprise of Photographs from the FSA by Bill McDowell, photographer and University of Vermont professor, arises from these hole-punched negatives. Drawn to the impact of the black hole, he focused on the transformation Stryker brought to the image. By altering the negatives with a hole-punch, Stryker unintentionally created a new image that does not solely belong to the original photographer anymore. McDowell’s selection of images for Ground is from a very particular group of photos taken by different photographers, 1935-1939, the formative years of the Farm Security Administration project. Photographs included in Bennington Museum’s exhibition were taken by Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans, Arthur Rothstein, and John Vachon.

Read More

An exhibition featuring Bill McDowell’s Ground series is at the Whitechapel Gallery in London through August 26, 2018.  Read About it Here.