Today I saw a link come through my Twitter account from the genius hotelier Liz Lambert of Hotel San Jose fame and she directed me to the Denver Post photo blog posting "Captured: America in Color, 1939-1943". Their words frame it best:
These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations. The photographs are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color.
I find the images haunting, hopeful, eerily real. . . because they are in color, and because of the reproduction from film and slides (I assume) makes them seem almost like styled movie stills. Like some genius art director is pulling the expression from the children and families of one of the most trying times in our national history.
I'm so inspired by the simplicity of the clothing patterns and materials, as well. By the patterns, the graphic signage and sweet and quite colorful fabrics. The ladies in dresses, the men in coats or suspenders. I know of one children's designer, Christine Visneau, that seems to draw on this time in history. Check out her amazing stuff at Baby Bean Vintage Daywear.
I look at pictures of my grandparents and great-grandparents so often. . .looking for a whisper from them, some understanding of their life and time - they were in rural America during the same period. These express a national connection, the collective experience of the last years of the depression. And it, again, is at once sad, hopeful, beautiful, melancholy. . . inspiring. . . provocative. I hope they inspire your ideas and creativity, rooted in history, in the same way they are me.