By: Steele Smith, Senior Writer
The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts is currently hosting the Delano and Lange Exhibition in the Richardson Family Art Gallery, showcasing photographs by Jack Delano and Dorothea Lange relating to the Great Depression, racial tension and transitions to Spartanburg after World War II. As part of the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information project, photographs from this exhibition depict life in Spartanburg County during the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Dr. Youmi Efurd, Wofford’s Curator and Cultural Arts Coordinator, directs all of the college’s galleries and collections. She is responsible for bringing collections to campus as well as arranging their installations. The Delano Lange Exhibition is the result of a collaboration between herself and Dr. Karen Goodchild.
“This exhibition was suggested by Dr. Karen Goodchild in our history department,” explains Dr. Efurd. Edurd went on to detail how Dr. Goodchild, as a Chapman Endowed professor, wanted to bring in the exhibition to accent this year’s Chapman speaker. Dr. Laura Webster will be speaking on the photography of Frederick Douglas on September 28th.
Since 2011, Dr. Webster has been the lead investigator in a project archiving photographs taken between 1935 and 1945 by the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information. The Delano Lange exhibition features photographs that are a part of the collection of photos that Dr. Webster has been exploring.
“The Library of Congress has a huge collection of this entire project. This set of photographs is from the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information project launched by the government at the time,” stated Dr. Efurd. “They wanted to document how people lived in different areas of the United States.”
During the 1930s and 40s the disparities between more rural parts of the United States and the urban areas were quite vast. The photographers hired for this project highlighted the lifestyles of people in these areas. The featured artists of the exhibition in the arts center, Jack Delano and Dorothea Lange, are responsible for many of the photos in this project. Their work displayed in the arts center shows the variety of domestic life in Spartanburg County at that time.
Dr. Efurd and Dr. Goodchild were able to search through the collection of photographs from the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information and select the photos for the exhibition that they felt fit best.
“I chose some, and Dr. Goodchild chose some. The arrangement was made by me,” explained Dr. Efurd, speaking on how works in the exhibit came together.
According to Efurd, The Delano Lange exhibition is just the beginning of what she hopes will be a greater emphasis on student involvement in the arts. Additionally, Efurd states, the space that the arts center provides allows Wofford to have an increased presence within the Spartanburg community.
Dr. Efurd says, “I want to see the betterment of student research, as in the use of the collection. I want to see student research and student presentations, things like that which are supporting the vision of Wofford College.” Dr. Efurd also wants to bring student works to the forefront of the gallery space in the arts center.
“I think it’s very necessary. We have a better space right now, so we can feature better. We have a really high traffic area because a lot of students are coming through these doors going into the classrooms, and they will see what going on right here” said Dr. Efurd on the necessity of using the arts center to showcase student artwork.
Currently, the arts center is still quite new. Dr. Efurd feels that it is her responsibility to facilitate student interaction with this space on campus.
“Originally we called it the student gallery because that was our dream and goal—that we’re going to feature the works by students and the works by faculty. We want to let people know that we are promoting and that we are encouraging students work and faculty works, states Dr. Efurd.
Richardson Family Art Gallery is just a pseudonym for student art gallery in her eyes. After the Delano and Lange exhibition finishes its stay, a student who received the Whetsell Fellowship for this past summer will have their work featured in the gallery in November and December. Pieces from Wofford’s collection of artwork curated by students will be featured following the Whetsell exhibition. The collection dates back to the college’s founding year, 1854, including portraits of notable and influential figures of Wofford as well as numerous Asians art pieces and artifacts. Hungarian impressionist and post-impressionist paintings are also featured, and a compilation of works by the southern artist Julia Elizabeth Tolbert.
While there will be no shortage of artwork to display in the galleries, Dr. Efurd plans on seeking to provide a more globalized assortment of art.
Speaking on what future uses of the space in the arts center Dr. Efurd states, “I want to see more diverse areas of works. I want to see various ranges of works, such as Middle Eastern artists. The goal is collaboration. The arts center is not just an arts center only. I want to collaborate with different departments across disciplines.”