VMFA photography exhibit focuses on child labor

American photographer Lewis Hine and his peers documented hard lives and dark days in the early 20th century.

At the intersection of sociology and modern photography lies the provocative work of American photographer Lewis Hine (1874-1940). His life and work, timed perfectly with a period in American history rife with social injustices, was focused primarily on exposing the dingy world of industrial labor in the early 20th century.

You may recognize this photograph!

Ultimately, his decades-long study of American children and migrants living and working in abject conditions pioneered photography as a modern documentary tool, inspired generations of sociological photographers, and most importantly, helped bring about labor law reform.

Hine’s photographs form the core of a new exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, open now through April 10th, 2016.

The Likeness of Labor promises the VMFA visitor a visual journey through dichotomy: hardship and courage; despair and hope; oppression and resilience. Hine, along with the exhibit’s complementary artists Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Margaret Bourke-White, captured men, women, and children living on the front lines of the American Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression. Photographed not even a century ago, these faces seem both gorgeously vintage and shockingly recent.

The Likeness of Labor is on display though April 10, 2016, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 N. Boulevard. Open daily.

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Lesley Bruno

Lesley Bruno likes to solve other people’s problems, both at work and at home, and is a strategic planning consultant at Floricane.

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