Lange Fellowship competition kicks off

migrant mother

Dorothea Lange on her most famous photograph: "I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. She told me her age, that she was 32. She said they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it." Photo Courtesy Oakland Museum of California, Lange Collection

11 OCTOBER 00 | A fellowship competition honoring Dorothea Lange - one of the 20th century's greatest documentary photographers - is under way, to encourage the use of documentary photography across academic disciplines.

Competition for the $4,000 fellowship is open to all Berkeley faculty, graduate students, and seniors accepted for graduate work, from any discipline. Applicants must demonstrate outstanding work in documentary photography and present a creative plan for future work. The deadline for applications is Nov. 27. Details are available at lange/.

The fellowship was established in 1981 by Lange's husband, Berkeley Economics Professor Paul Taylor, who died in 1984.They met during the early 1930s when Taylor took a leave from the university to study the problems of migrant farm workers in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. A successful portrait photographer in San Francisco, Lange joined the team as a typist, since photography in those days was not considered a scholarly field.

Her photos, along with Taylor's research, raised national awareness of the plight of migrant workers and helped secure government aid for them.

Past fellowship winners have documented such issues as child labor in Nepal, threatened Amazonian tribes and contemporary Native American culture in California, continuing Lange's example of using art to foment social change.

A fellowship winner in 1987, Journalism Professor Ken Light's project followed the struggle of undocumented Mexicans and their migration north.

"Being associated with the work of Dorothea Lange and the support of the fellowship in her name did open some doors for me," said Light, a judge in this year's competition.

He added that successful entries will have "depth, richness and spirit" and make a strong human connection to their subjects and stories.

This year's recipient will be announced in January, 2001. For information, visit the web site or call 643-7641.


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