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Woman in White

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William Anderson, American
Woman in White, 1976
Silver gelatin print on Paper
16 3/4 in. x 12 in. (42.55 cm x 30.48 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Gift of Samella Lewis
Accession Number: 2007.2.2

"During his forty-year photographic career, Anderson documented the everyday lives of impoverished African Americans in the rural South. His pictures reveal their endurance, dignity and humanity in the face of great hardships. Anderson’s photographs look beyond the wretched conditions of poverty to encompass a sense of community, laughter, and even triumph, without erasing or negating the destitution of the poor.

In Woman in White, taken in 1976, the subject bends over with her back to the viewer while holding a ball on a shelf. The simplicity of her dress, necklace and headscarf balance the varied objects of her surroundings—including a mural of female figures, a rack full of dishes, and a shelf where the ball is stored. The photograph raises questions about how poverty affects the separation between the public and the private. The dish rack signifies the private, domestic sphere, leaving the viewer to wonder why this woman’s dishes are washed outdoors, rather than inside her home. Is this her personal choice, or simply a matter of necessity? The mural in the background also prompts a closer look. What is the significance of the partially nude female forms? How do these figures relate to the woman in the foreground?"

(Aleedra Price, PO '10, Getty MUI Summer Intern 2010)

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