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Dust Storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma

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Arthur Rothstein, American, (07/17/1915–11/11/1985)
Dust Storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma , 1936, printed later
Gelatin silver print on paper
16 x 16 in. (41 x 41 cm)


Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Creation Place: North America, America, New York
Credit Line: Gift of Sally Strauss and Andrew E. Tomback
Accession Number: 2017.12.8


Commentary
Illustrated: Arthur Rothstein. Words and Pictures. New York: Amphoto, 1979, p. 38.

As one of his many assignments as a Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographer, Rothstein traveled to the Great Plains region to document the environmental devastation of the Dust Bowl. He describes the serendipitous moment this photo was taken as such: “The farmer and his two children, two little boys, were walking past a shed on their property and I took this photograph with the dust swirling all around them… It was a picture that had a very simple kind of composition, but there was something about the swirling dust and the shed behind the farmer. It showed an individual in relation to his environment.”

In the decades since this now-iconic photograph was taken, Cimarron County residents still grapple with an arid landscape amidst a drought that FEMA and the National Weather Service project will be “the most costly and damaging in U.S. history” (The New Yorker). In one image, Rothstein captures a glimpse of the storied history of a once-vibrant American prairie—one defined by struggle and resiliency.

- Gigi Hume, SC ‘23

Sources:
1. https://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-arthur-rothstein-13317
2. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/itll-be-better-next-year

Marks
Verso:
“G48.3 4/9 Dust Storm” written on the bottom left side in pencil.
“2017.12.8/ AR-192.54” written on the right bottom side in pencil, 1.375” left of a “5000” written on the bottom right corner, also in pencil.
“ARTHUR ROTHSTEIN PHOTOGRAPH from the collection of GRACE ROTHSTEIN” stamped on the lower left side in black ink about 2” from the left.

Medium
gelatin silver print (printed later) on paper

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