Oakland Museum of California Announces New Gallery Installation Showcasing Dorothea Lange’s Iconic Photographs Documenting Major Social Issues of the 20th Century
As the owner of Lange’s personal archive—a gift from the artist that includes 40,000 negatives, 6,000 vintage prints, field notes, and personal memorabilia—OMCA has the unique opportunity to display Lange’s most iconic and career-defining photographs. Organized by Curator of Photography & Visual Culture Drew Johnson, the installation more than doubled its former size in the Gallery of California Art, from 18 photographs to 47 photographs, including both well-recognized and rarely seen vintage prints, as well as archival pigment prints made from Lange’s original negatives in OMCA’s collection.
Through the lens of her camera, Lange documented American life with riveting photographs that illuminated major social issues of the 20th century. This installation highlights Lange’s socially conscious photographic work, focusing on her powerful documentation of the Great Depression from Dust Bowl migrants to tenant farmers in the Deep South, the injustice of imprisoned Japanese Americans during World War II, wartime shipyard workers on the Homefront, and urban criminal justice during Postwar California.
Two interactive spaces allow visitors to explore photographic techniques that make an image more persuasive, such as cropping, juxtaposition, and sequencing. Visitors have the opportunity to experiment with these techniques using Lange’s images, mimicking her own artistic methods. Direct quotes from Lange and her subjects also shed light on the context and intentions behind the images on view.
“OMCA is fortunate to have Lange’s extraordinary personal archive in its collection,” said curator Drew Johnson. “Following the success of our 2017 major exhibition Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing, which examined Lange’s works through a social justice lens, we are thrilled to have a new, expanded home in our Core Art gallery dedicated to her enduring legacy. Lange was a pioneer of documentary photography in service of political activism, and her work will continue to inspire new generations of artists and activists.”
You Are Here: California Stories on the Map
Gallery of California Natural Science
February 14, 2020–February 14, 2022
We all use maps in our everyday lives—to navigate public transportation, find places to eat, and visualize big data like weather patterns or political opinions. But have you ever considered the deeper stories maps tell us? In , you’ll discover there’s more to maps than meets the eye. Showcasing a diverse range of maps from Oakland, the Bay Area, and California—from environmental surroundings and health conditions to community perspectives and creative artworks—experience how maps can be a powerful tool to share unique points of view and imagine a better future. Explore new perspectives of familiar places through maps made by the community, and mark your own stories on the community map inside the exhibition.
Hella Feminist: An Exhibition
April 25–August 23, 2020
Feminism. It’s a loaded word; as empowering to some as it is challenging for others. This Spring, we take on this complex and timely topic with , celebrating the lesser-known stories of feminism here in Oakland and the Bay Area.
Spurred by the #metoo movement and recent wave of progressive political activism, feminism today has become increasingly about how race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual identity are interrelated, creating a movement that is more inclusive and more powerful than those that came before.
Organized around three core themes—mind, body, and spirit—the exhibition features fascinating historical artifacts, provocative contemporary artwork, and interactive elements. Showcasing everyday acts of resistance as well as historical flashpoints, invites you to experience the concept of feminism in all its struggle, triumph, and hope; to re-think your relationship to the word and the ideas it represents; and to consider how all of us can take action to shape a more just future.
Edith Heath: A Life in Clay
June 27, 2020–January 3, 2021
Trailblazer. Rebel. Revolutionary. Discover the story of Edith Heath, founder and designer of Heath Ceramics. Heath transformed the ceramics industry, creating dinnerware from California clay for “Sunday best” and everyday use. Driven by the power of good design, and a commitment to her craft, Heath’s vision continues to live on through her stoneware and tile over 70 years later. Durable, not delicate, simple, yet stylish, Heath Ceramics is an icon of American design.
Lead support for the exhibition was provided by Intel and Bently Foundation. Support for the exhibition’s tour is provided by the C. F. Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund.
Gallery of California Art
October 16, 2019 – February 16, 2020
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of OMCA’s beloved El Día de los Muertos celebration with an exhibition inspired by the Chicano activists who introduced Día de los Muertos traditions to the United States in the 1970s. will honor and explore the lesser-known origins of Day of the Dead, and the ways these traditions continue to inspire social and political change today.
Visitors will encounter altars, artworks, and interactive elements that show how Chicano activists used Day of the Dead traditions to foster pride in their indigenous heritage and unify their communities. Experience a Oaxacan style ofrenda and hear first-hand stories of the Chicanos who went to Oaxaca to gather Day of the Dead traditions from elders. Honor members of the first Chicano generation and their enduring legacy through a series of colorful ofrendas created by contemporary artists, interactive features, and intergenerational conversations captured on film. Other elements—from historical objects, a mural, and a sculpture that sparked the first Day of the Dead celebrations at OMCA—will immerse viewers in the evolving identities, traditions, and artistic expressions of the Chicano community, both then and now.
Gallery of California History
Uncover the history of the Black Power movements in California with a compelling addition to the Gallery of California History. In response to the widely-popular 2016 exhibition , this new installation will illustrate the creative ways black anti-racist activists in California supported their communities and challenged the U.S. government. Focusing on the example of the Black Panther Party, r will bring to light the tensions between a culturally and socially progressive California and examples of economic racism and oppression in the state. This moment in California history will be represented through historic photographs, provocative objects, iconic posters, paintings and interactive prompts that encourage visitors to take action out in the world. Learn more about the Bay Area role in this national story, and the impacts this history continues to have today.
Question Bridge: Black Males
Gallery of California Art
Hailed as one of the Bay Area’s Top Exhibitions by the San Francisco Chronicle, Question Bridge: Black Males returns to the Oakland Museum of California’s Gallery of California Art. Immerse yourself in intimate videos—woven together and arranged to simulate face-to-face conversations between participants—among a diverse group of over 160 Black men across the United States. Hear these men answer each other’s questions with exceptional honesty and vulnerability, and share stories, beliefs, and values in a personal portrayal of their lives. Encompassing themes of family, love, interracial relationships, community, education, and wisdom, Question Bridge: Black Males presents nuanced portraits of past, present, and future of Black men in American society. Listen, watch, learn, and start your own conversations with this profoundly moving installation.
A recent acquisition to the Oakland Museum of California’s permanent collection, Question Bridge is an innovative and widely exhibited video installation from artists Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair. Joining the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Brooklyn Museum, OMCA is proud to acquire this groundbreaking and poignant work for its collection.
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