Teachers Lesson Plans
Both of these images were made to document and to influence opinions.
The image of a ten-year-old girl working in a cotton mill by Hine is typical of the work he did for the National Child Labour Committee. He posed children to emphasize their individuality and to contrast their size against the huge machinery. In her face we can sense the drudgery and the unhealthy, long hours worked by many young children. This child had to work in dangerous conditions, on her feet for up to twelve hours a day, six days a week, watching bobbins and brushing away lint, for very small earnings.Hine's photographs were important in the battle to change the child labour laws. Primarily concerned with working conditions, Hine was also interested in the theme of modern society's ambivalent relationship with industrialization and machinery - a theme that occurs in other art of the 1920s and 30s.
Sid Grossman belonged to The Photo League, a voluntary organization of professional and amateur photographers who believed in raising awareness and documenting the many rural and urban Americans suffering from unemployment and hunger during the Depression era of the 1930s. The Photo League saw art as an instrument of social change and was dedicated to documenting the conditions of the poor. Grossman was hired by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) to photograph Harlem, the African American quarter of New York. In this work, he has created a visually arresting image through the unexpected contrast in scale between the boy and the swimmers, and through the shimmer of reflected light on wet surfaces. The boy appears confident and monumental as his figure fills the picture frame. His facial expression, however, reveals a sense of uncertainty.