What time period did she grow up in? What location?
Dorothea Nutzhorn was born on May 26th, 1895. Her Gemini sign is the earliest sign of her sensitive and empathetic nature, which was taken full advantage of in her photos. Born and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey Dorothea was a child of divorce and illness, but made the best of it. Her teen years were when she decided to drop the last name Nutzhorn and change to her mother's maiden name Lange as she had become distant with her father. During her early years Lange was highly encouraged to study literature and art. This led to her going to Columbia University to study photography, she started working in portrait photography and the rest is history!
What was a significant moment in the life of Dorothea Lange?
When Dorothea was only seven she contracted polio which left her right foot considerably weak. This was one of the first cases of adversity that she had to endure in her life, preparing her to see adversity of others in a different lens which is so clear in her work. Lange speaks of this childhood illness, “It was the most important thing that happened to me, and formed me, guided me, instructed me, helped me and humiliated me,” Without this happening to her, it is very possible that we would not be studying her work today, or if it was studied one can assume that it would be vastly different.
What was the overall meaning of her artwork?
Dorothea Lange wanted to tell a story. From her work as a portrait photographer in the earlier years to her documentary photography her main goal was to inform. But informing people of things like the Dust Bowl was only a part of it, she wanted also to get the human reactions to the occurrences. While studying the Dust Bowl or the Great Depression in class, it is cold facts, and while obviously one is compelled to pity those who had to endure such things, it is difficult to put oneself into the shoes of said people. But when one sees emaciated children run through barren streets with a huge storm cloud behind them... It all becomes too real. Through Lange's revolutionary documentary photographs, one can get a real sense of what it would have been like to struggle through such events.
With that, she summarizes the meaning of her life's work best herself: