Photography and New Mexico

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Far from Main Street: Three Photographers in Depression-Era New Mexico

Photographs by John Collier Jr.
Photographs by Jack Delano
Photographs by Russell Lee

New Deal agencies hired some of the country's most talented photographers of the twentieth century to document the lives of rural Americans during the Great Depression and its aftermath. This moving record bears witness to the struggling people in northern New Mexico determined to succeed through the lenses of Russell Lee, John Collier Jr., and Jack Delano.


Russell Lee (1903–1986) was widely acclaimed as one of the most outstanding documentary photographers of the twentieth century. His images of American life during the Great Depression, created for the Farm Security Administration between 1936 and 1942, hold a preeminent place in one of history's best-known and most useful photographic collections. This famous body of work demonstrates Lee's extraordinary ability to reveal the humanity of his subjects and to become a part of the communities he photographed. It also displays Lee's superior technical ability—his legendary skill in using a flash enabled Lee to create some of the finest candids in the history of photography.

John Collier Jr. (1913–1992) was an American anthropologist and an early leader in the fields of visual anthropology and applied anthropology. His emphasis on analysis and use of still photographs in ethnography led him to significant contributions in other subfields of anthropology, especially the applied anthropology of education. His book Visual Anthropology: Photography as a Research Method (1967) is one of the earliest textbooks in the field and is still in use today. He is also notable as someone who overcame significant learning and hearing impairments to succeed on a larger stage.

Jack Delano's (1914–1997) "photographic memories" include the struggles of migrant workers and the home-front contributions of ethnic and minority groups living in the shadow of the Depression. Employed as a photographer by the historical section of the Farm Security Administration, Delano later settled in Puerto Rico, where he was a constant participant in the island's cultural life.


"A work of transcendent grace and beauty."


New York Times Book Review

Published By Museum of New Mexico Press

9 x 12 in. 88 pages 150 duotones