The Dust Bowl is a four-hour documentary by Ken Burns airing on PBS starting this weekend.
The Dust Bowl chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the "Great Plow-Up," followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Vivid interviews with twenty-six survivors of those hard times, combined with dramatic photographs and seldom seen movie footage, bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible human perseverance. It is also a morality tale about our relationship to the land that sustains us -- a lesson we ignore at our peril.
You can watch the first five minutes of the film on the PBS site.
For her project My Pie Town, Debbie Grossman modified Depression-era photos to depict all-female families.
Joan Myers' biography of Doris Caudill (Doris is in many of the pictures), Pie Town Woman, describes her husband, Faro, as less than helpful on the homestead. I had downloaded a portrait of Doris and Faro from the Library of Congress website, and because it was so high-resolution, it occurred to me that I had enough pixels to work with that I could alter the image. I removed Faro, and I loved the opportunity to look at Doris on her own and imagine a different life for her. I thought it would be fun to remake the whole town in a way that reflected my own family, and I imagined a Pie Town filled with women.
The main reason for doing so was to give us the unusual experience of getting to see a contemporary idea of family (female married couples as parents, for example) as if it were historical. But I am also very interested in using Photoshop to create imaginary or impossible images-this is something I have done in other work as well.