Every Worker is an Organizer
Fhotographs by David Bacon
This exhibit in the California State Capitol is organized by Assembly Member Luis Alejo and his staff, and is part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United Farm Workers of America.
California State Capitol
Hallway next to the Governor’s Office
May 20-26, 2012
Open to the public
Farm labor is a key element historically in the photographic documentation of social reality in the US, and in particular the documentation of social protest. Dorothea Lange, Hansel Meith, Otto Hegel, and the generation of the 1930s and 1940s left a body of work showing the extreme exploitation of farm workers, and documenting the early farm labor organizing efforts, part of the great labor upsurge of those decades.
The iconography of social documentary photography was shaped by images like Lange’s mother and children in Nipomo, or those of the Pixley cotton strikers packed onto the back of a truck under their banner “Disarm the rich farmer or arm the workers for self-defense!” or the growers with their rifles waiting in ambush.
The first two decades of the growth of the United Farm Workers was undoubtedly one of the most-photographed social protests of the civil rights era. It too had its icons — the line of marchers on their way from Delano to Sacramento, silhoutted against the sky, or Cesar Chavez weakened by his fast, at the side of Robert Kennedy.
In 1994, a year after the death of Chavez, the union made a second march from Delano to Sacramento. In 1996, it began an effort to organize the central California coast strawberry industry, employing 25,000 workers. That struggle pitted workers and the union against mass firings, blacklists, company unions, and the use of the legal structure to subvert workers’ efforts. In 1998, workers at the country’s then second-largest vegetable grower, D’Arrigo Brothers walked out on strike in the Salinas Valley
The photographs in this exhibit document this period in the union’s history, especially the organizing drive in Watsonville and the strike at D’Arrigo. Some also document working lives of workers themselves. Strawberry pickers bend over double in the rows, run as they pick wine grapes or tomatoes, or balance at the top of date palms without safety lines. They show as well the extreme youth of farm workers today, where the average age has fallen to 20.
Like all workers, farm laborers take pride in the skill it takes to do their jobs, their bravery in the face of dangerous conditions (farm labor has one of the highest occupational injury rates of all US employment), and the social contribution they make in providing food for millions of people.
These are not images of passive exploitation, designed to elicit just a sympathetic response. They are a documentary record of the efforts workers have made to organize a union in the face of brutal working conditions and low wages.
The images are a view from below, looking at the work process and the union from the point of view of workers.
The UFW has had an enormous impact on the US labor movement over the last 50 years. It helped to inspire a resurgence of interest in organizing, and trained hundreds of people who went on to become organizers for unions and community organizations all across the country.
These photographs are part of a larger exhibition and documentary project about farm workers and migration tody. This set of images was exhibited at the Oakland Museum of California, the U.S. Labor College, Bread and Roses Gallery and the American Labor Museum, thanks to support from the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the Zellerbach Foundation.
VALLEY OF SHADOWS & DREAMS
A Heyday book
Photography by Ken Light
Text by Melanie Light
Forward by Thomas Steinbeck
January 17-May 15,2012
(save the date)
Reception & Book Signing
Friday, March 16th
“Valley of Shadows and Dreams explores a different California from the one that most people know—
a California far from Hollywood and Malibu and San Francisco, a California that in some elemental respects
has not changed much since the days of the Spanish conquistadors. The same sort of manual labor prevails in the fields,
the same exploitation of the weakest and poorest still blights the land. In this book you will find a powerful indictment
not only of what has happened lately in America’s largest state, but also of what is happening across this country right now.
The abuse of illegal immigrants, environmental degradation, the madness of a real estate bubble, and all the other problems
of the Central Valley are unfortunately relevant nationwide. Ken and Melanie Light bring great compassion and an eye for
beauty to this subject, facing hard truths but refusing to despair. As John Steinbeck argued more than seventy years ago,
the demand for justice and the need for true democracy are timeless, essential things.”
—Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation
U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Center for Photography
Corner of Hearst & Euclid, Berkeley
Reception 6:00-7:00 P.M.
Talk by the Authors & Special Guest 7:00-9:00 P.M.
Free & open to the public
The title alone should get you to go!
This Camera Fights Fascism:
The Photographs of David Bacon and Francisco Dominguez
de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, CA
July 29 – December 4, 2011 and January 14 – February 5, 2012
Tuesday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Opening Thursday, September 22nd, 6PM
David Bacon and Francisco Dominguez have both followed in the tradition of Depression-era photographers such as Dorothea Lange, focusing their cameras on struggle, dissent, immigrants, and workers. Their photographs speak to the global character of contemporary migration. Like the so-called Okies of the Depression, many of today’s migrants have been displaced by environmental degradation and wider economic forces.
The title of this exhibition refers to a sign that 1930s folk musician Woody Guthrie often had on his guitar, “This Machine Kills Fascists.” These two photographers build a powerful body of visual evidence of the continuing struggle of workers, migrants, and poor people to survive. In this exhibition the photographers responded to images by Dorothea Lange and selected photographs from their own work that draw close connections between the 1930s and today.
David Bacon is a photojournalist who has documented the movements of farm workers, social protest from Iraq and Mexico to the U.S., and the migration of people. He is the author of several books, and many of the images in this show are from Communities Without Borders, Images and Words from the World of Migration.
Francisco Dominguez is a photographer and printmaker. His parents both were farm workers. He documents the struggles of indigenous, immigrant, and poor people in black and white photography.
- Art Hazelwood, Guest Curator
To view the slide show please go to:
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Don’t forget to support our homey Felipe! We love his photography at De-Bug!
Check out these fancy photos by Tiburon FB! of local music band Davine. They performed at the “Quality Over Quantity” event hosted by the Knowbodies on Saturday, April 16th. For more images, check out www.siliconvalleydebug.com and for more images from Tiburon, check out catchitwithyourface.com
If you are in the Sacramento area, you have to check out these amazing photographers telling an important story of our times.
Beyond Borders: Immigration Images and Stories
Photographs by David Bacon and Kathya Landeros
Wed, 03/09/2011 – Sat, 04/02/2011
Artist Reception Date:
Fri, 03/11/2011 – 5:30pm – 9:00pm
An experienced photographer, journalist, and former labor organizer, Bacon’s stunning work of photographs and oral history documents the new reality of migrant experience: the creation of transnational communities. He takes us inside these communities and illuminates the ties that bind them together, the influence of their working conditions on their families and health, and their struggle for better lives.
Landeros, herself from a family of immigrants from Central Mexico, proposes that “If one can accept that the history of migratory policy toward Mexico has been complicated as we negotiate between our demands for labor and our need for cultural sovereignty, then we can acknowledge that the migrant communities that have developed in Mexico are a manifestation of these complexities.”
Support our Local Arts!
January 22, 2011 through March 31, 2011
Opening reception: Saturday, January 22, 2011, 4 – 6pm
Center for Photographic Art, San Carlos and 9th Streets, Carmel, CA, 93921
Ted Orland, Karen Sinsheimer, and Huntington Witherill have completed the judging for the CPA 2011 Juried Exhibition. From 1290 images from 246 photographers – almost twice as many photographs from half again as many artists as last year – they have chosen 48 images to be exhibited at the CPA’s Sunset Center gallery from January 22 through March 31, 2011. The opening reception will be from 4 to 6 pm on January 22.
Current Exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Art
110 South Market Street, SJ
“The power of photography lies in part in the ability of the camera to seemingly objectify the world—to selectively frame and focus our attention. This exhibition of modernist photographs and photogravures from the first half of the twentieth century emphasizes the role of the photographer as an eloquent, purposeful observer and as a masterful editor of everyday experience.
Artists represented in this exhibition include Ruth Bernhard, Walker Evans, John Gutmann, André Kertész, Arthur Rothstein, Peter Stackpole, and Weegee, among others.”