The Department of Fine Arts at Trinity College is pleased to present “Jack Delano: Photographer (1914 - 1997): A Centennial Celebration Exhibition,” running from Feb. 6 – Mar. 14, 2014, at Widener Gallery in Trinity College’s Austin Arts Center. An opening reception will take place on Thurs., Feb. 6, from 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. The exhibition is curated by Felice Caivano and Pablo Delano, Jack Delano’s son and a professor of fine arts at Trinity College.
2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Jack Delano's birth. He was born in Ukraine in 1914 and emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1923. This Centennial Exhibition celebrates the artist's work and highlights his photographic career from the U.S. to his adopted homeland of Puerto Rico, where he settled in 1946. Reflected in the images chosen for the exhibition is Delano's lifelong commitment to chronicling the lives of ordinary people, which began in the late 1930's and continued until his death in Puerto Rico in 1997.
The exhibition includes black and white and color photographs taken in the 1940’s from three geographic areas Delano explored in depth: The U.S. South, New England, and Puerto Rico. Delano’s iconic 1940 image of Connecticut tobacco famers Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Lyman of Windsor Locks, known as “The Laughing Couple” will be on display.
Jack Delano was part of a team of photographers employed by the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) during the New Deal period, under the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The team, which included such renowned photographers as Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, was charged with creating visual documentation of social conditions across the country, particularly the impact of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.
The FSA collection of images, housed today in the Library of Congress, is considered by many scholars to be the largest and most influential photo documentary project in history. Additionally, FSA photographers such as Delano, Marion Post Wolcott and Russell Lee were pioneers in the use of color photography for documentary purposes, employing the newly developed (and only recently discontinued) Kodachrome film.
Throughout his career, Jack Delano’s work always focused on the lives of working people. In a 1965 interview, he reflected on his FSA photography, “I think we all had a respect for human beings and we were hoping that in our pictures we were saying something decent about the dignity of mankind, the dignity of human beings, and it didn’t matter who they were…this was a human being of great dignity and this we hoped would be reflected in all the pictures we did. And, of course, people were the basic element in everything we were doing.”
Delano first traveled to Puerto Rico in 1941 while working for the FSA. In 1946, after military service, he returned, having received a Guggenheim Fellowship to produce a photo book about the island. In Puerto Rico, he and his wife, the graphic artist Irene Delano, worked in a range of creative fields, including filmmaking, educational television, book illustration and music composition.
Pablo Delano, co-curator of the exhibition and Jack Delano’s son, commented, “In this exhibition, we were able to highlight some of the pictures my father felt were his strongest. For example, he spent a long time in Greene County, Georgia, mostly photographing the day-to-day lives and rituals of African-Americans, including some individuals, then elderly, who had been born into slavery. In New England, he loved the light and the architecture, but also the diversity of the people. So he took photographs of Polish tobacco growers, Jewish farmers, etc. And then there is Puerto Rico, the island he fell in love with, where he settled down and raised his family. He photographed literally every city and town in Puerto Rico.”
In conjunction with the exhibition there will be a screening of two films on Wed., Mar. 5, at 7 p.m. in Boyer Auditorium, Life Sciences Building, Trinity College:
Autógrafo: Jack Delano, is a short biographic sketch of Mr. Delano, produced in 2009 by Autógrafo TV, San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is in Spanish with English subtitles.
Los Peloteros (1951), a classic of Puerto Rican cinema, is a feature film directed by Jack Delano, with original music composed by Delano. This film is in Spanish but a plot summary provided in English.
The films will be introduced by Pablo Delano. The screening is co-sponsored by the Latin American & Iberian Film Festival and the Hispanic Studies Program at Trinity College.
This exhibition, the opening reception, and the film screening are free and open to the public. Gallery Hours are 1:00-6:00 p.m. The gallery is closed Saturdays. For more information, please call 860- 297-5232 or 860 297-2199.