American, 1918 – 2016
James Routh (American, 1918 – 2016)
Ink, graphite, and ink wash on paper
5 5/8 x 9 1/4 inches
Gift of Cathy and Hunter Allen
Currently not on view
After completing his artistic training at the Art Students League in New York, James Routh was awarded the Julius Rosenwald Fellowship in 1940. Routh wrote in his application that he wanted to travel throughout his native South to document the realities of rural life there, specifically the plight of African Americans. He ultimately focused on subjects in and around Atlanta, but chose to largely ignore the post-WWII boom that was transforming Atlanta, instead highlighting the vestiges of rural life in the city. In both the drawing Dixie Steel and its related print Routh reveals the underlying tension between modernization and the rural Southern worker. The smokestacks of the Atlantic Steel Company dominate the background while a group of slumped-shouldered laborers traverse the barren field at the bottom right. Atlantic Steel—which later trademarked Dixisteel—ceased operations in 1998, but the site subsequently has been transformed into the retail center Atlantic Station.