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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Sonia Handelman Meyer: Images from the Photo League

January 24 through May 10, 2009

In the years around World War II, Sonia Handelman lived in New York City and worked as a photographer, focusing on the lives of common people who surrounded her. The child of Eastern European immigrant parents, she gravitated towards the poor and dispossessed. Like Lewis Hine and Farm Security Administration photographers of the Great Depression, she believed that social documentary photography could improve the lives of people by communicating the humanity of the oppressed and disadvantaged. Handelman’s sentiments were shared by members of the Photo League, a group of photographers active in New York City from 1936 to 1951. The Photo League was loosely organized around exhibitions, lectures, classes, and a newsletter. Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, Lisette Model, Bernice Abbott, W. Eugene Smith, Aaron Siskind, and Paul Strand were members. Handelman was an active member of the group and she served briefly as its secretary, the only paid staff position. Her Photo League photography has sparked renewed interest. Exhibitions in Charlotte and New Orleans have acquainted a new generation of viewers with modern prints from the vintage negatives made in her twin-lens Rolleicord. Now Montgomerians can appreciate the art of this compassionate photographer whose honest and un-manipulated images provide insight to the lives of Americans who faced the challenges of their own day with dignity.

Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.


Photography of installation at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts