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Focusing the Artistic Lens on Homelessness
All four exhibitions at the de Saisset Museum this fall focus on artists’ depictions of homelessness over the last 80 years, deftly combining the museum’s mission of providing historical and contemporary perspectives through art with the University’s emphasis on social justice.
The de Saisset invited the curator of the Envoy show, Art Hazelwood, to create a complementary exhibition for the museum’s auditorium space as well. Between Struggle and Hope: Envisioning a Democratic Art in the 1930’s draws heavily on New Deal works in the de Saisset’s own collection, but also brings together photographs, prints, and murals from other area collectors. The powerful photography of Dorothea Lange, one of the artists employed by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in the ’30s to document the lives of farmers and the work of the FSA, captures the nobility of people living in poverty. The juxtaposition of her images with works by other Depression-era artists evokes a rich diversity of emotion. “Between Struggle and Hope examines not only the challenges at the time, but also that sense of hopefulness, that people were going to make it through,” Kouvaris says.
In This Camera Fights Fascism, also curated by Hazelwood, photographers David Bacon and Francisco Dominguez respond to iconic photos by Lange with pictures of their own, creating a captivating connection between the New Deal era and today. Side-by-side comparisons will be viewable at the museum as well as online.
Completing the quartet of exhibitions is The Changing Face of Homelessness, works by Santa Clara students from Renee Billingslea’s class “Exploring Society through Photography.” From 2006-11, students visited local homeless shelters, hosting a free portrait day for families. Some of those photos, accompanied by entries from the students’ journals at the time, create a positive view of homelessness, focusing on the similarities between subject and photographer.
The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, closed Mondays. No charge for admission. For special programs, closing dates, and more information, visit www.scu.edu/desaisset.