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West Virginia Living Room

Photography

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West Virginia Living Room

Artwork Details

Artist/Maker

Walker Evans
American, 1903–1975

Date

1935

Medium

Gelatin silver print

Accession #

75.45

Dimensions

Support/Overall: 7 1/2 x 9 1/2in. (19.1 x 24.1cm) Framed/Mounted: 20 1/4 × 16 1/4 inches (51.4 cm × 41.3 cm)

Location

Currently Not on View

Description

Evans made this photograph during the first year of the photography division of the Resettlement Administration (later renamed the Farm Security Administration). The mission of this newly formed government agency was to document the hardships of the Great Depression and the positive effects of New Deal policies.
The furnishings of this coal miner’s home are spare and worn; the walls are decorated with commercial advertisements that reflect a prosperity this family was not likely to experience. But this photograph transcends its immediate mission as government propaganda. Rather than a condescending look at poverty, “West Virginia Living Room” captures the dignity of the family. The barefoot boy sitting awkwardly in the chair looks straight into the camera and challenges the viewer. His direct stare shows no shame and asks for no pity.

Credit

Purchase with funds from the Atlanta Foundation

Image Copyright