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Russell Lee, American, (1903–1986)
In Main Street, Cascade, 1941
Dye transfer print
9 7/8 in. x 6 13/16 in. (25.07 cm x 17.35 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Credit Line: Gift of C. Jane Hurley Wilson '64 and Michael G. Wilson, Wilson Centre for Photography, London, UK
Accession Number: 2008.4.23

Russell Lee belonged to a group of significant photographers from the Depression Era who captured the daily lives of urban and rural communities. He originally trained as a chemical engineer and a painter. However, after buying a camera to help with his painting, he fell in love with photography. He was eventually hired to work on a federally sponsored Farm Security Administration photographic documentation project. The Farm Security Administration, or FSA, was a New Deal program created to assist poor farmers during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. While with the FSA, Lee worked with a group of influential photographers, which included Dorothea Lange and Roy Stryker, to compile perhaps the greatest documentary collection ever assembled. Some 77,000 black-and-white documentary photographs were produced during the course of the project. Beginning in 1939, many color photos were also generated. During Lee’s tenure with the FSA, he traveled across the United States photographing the effects of the Depression within different communities as demonstrated by the photo, In Main Street, Cascade. Here, Lee brings our attention to a street in an Idaho community. This photograph in particular reflects Lee’s concern for the struggling working class. The photo, taken in 1941, focuses on a thoroughfare lined with dilapidated buildings, which are slowing coming back to life. There is serenity and a sense of hope within the photo emphasized by the use of color photography. This print was made via the dye transfer process, a continuous-tone color printing process. Kodak popularized the process for general-purpose artworks in the 1940s—at the same time as Lee photographed this image. The use of color not only brought photographs into the modern age but allowed the photographer to capture life as seen through the public’s eyes. Interested in the opportunities presented by the invention of color photography, Lee transitioned from away from black-and-white photography. His photos from his time at the FSA are some of the only color documentation of the effects of the Great Depression on rural communities. Shaina Raskin ’15 Wilson Intern 2013

Object Description
"Printed 1986 Street scene small town, blue sky, row of shops with signs Beer, Cafe, Drugs. Four cars parked. Printed 1986. Light Gallery authentication stamp on verso. Limited edition set of 250 dye transfer prints from original Farm Security Administration transparencies held by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Artists name, title, transparency date, printing date and gallery number in pencil on verso."

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