Some of the most impactful moments in history have been captured through the lens of the camera - the celebration following the end of World War II, the fall of the Hindenberg, the moon landing. But at the center of each photo’s meaning is the human experience mapped out on film. Sometimes, the emotion behind the photo’s subject speaks for itself. During the Great Depression, there was a disconnect felt between the American people and the glamorization of the so called “American Dream.”

Dorothea Lange, iconic documentary photographer, captured the unvarnished reality of America in the 1930s. The new exhibit at Eiteljorg Museum, Changing Views: The Photography of Dorothea Lange, displays 30 photographs that helped awaken the nation’s conscience in the 20th century, and highlights the social issues present in the 1930s American West.

Social issues such as poverty, forced migration, and hunger were running rampant in the 1930s and 1940s. By focusing her photography on the people experiencing these hardships, Lange encouraged an empathetic response from her audience members. Take the famed “One Nation Indivisible" photograph, for example. Lange positions her lens on the expressions on a group Japanese children as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance, focusing the theme of the photograph on their innocence at a time of tension. The exhibit explorers how this direct approach allowed Lange to use her work as, in her words, "evidence," rather than art, of history's impact on the populations.


The raw emotion shown in “Migrant Mother,” and the haunted look of the photograph’s subject, inspired the government to send aid to the agricultural camps in California.

Though Lange’s work is centered in themes from more than 90 years ago, Changing Views proves that advocacy through photography is anything but reminiscent of the past. The exhibition features other notable social documentarians of the era, including Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, Wright Morris, Mike Disfarmer and others. Interviews and photographs from four contemporary photographers also feature in the exhibition, showing how photography continues to be a tool for social justice movements today. Changing Views concludes with a digital showcase of Lange-inspired works by photography students from the Herron School of Art + Design, and a community photo slideshow – inviting everyone to pick up a camera and share images of human resilience from the world around them.