About the Photographer
I was interested in people not only as images, but also as human beings. In stories that they would tell me or interviews I had with them. It seemed to be it was an important part of what I was trying to communicate.
— Jack Delano, as quoted in Far from Main Street
Concerned with the human condition and committed to addressing social issues with his photography, Jack Delano was well matched to the Farm Security Administration. The FSA was established in 1935 as part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs and given the mission to support small farmers and restore land and communities damaged by the Depression. The photographers employed under the FSA (which also included Charlotte Brooks, Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, John Vachon, and Marion Post Wolcott) produced images that greatly impacted how both policy-makers and the general public understood the Depression.
Roy Stryker hired Delano as an FSA photographer in 1940, and Delano soon became known for his strong compositions and sensitivity to his subjects. Like other FSA photographers, Delano traveled throughout the United States documenting American culture and people while also completing specific assignments (one of his most famous involved the country's train system). Max Killie next to photo of him in WWI, Heard, Co. was made in 1941, a pivotal year for Delano as he also made his first trip to Puerto Rico (where he would later spend decades working), ended his career with the FSA, and began his wartime service as a military photographer. In addition to photography, Delano composed music. He died in Puerto Rico in 1997.
Jack Delano was born Jack Ovcharov in Kiev, Ukraine on August 1, 1914. He emigrated to Philadelphia with his family in 1923. In 1932 he began his study of drawing and painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and in 1936 first took up photography during study in Europe. Delano was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 1946, and his work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; El Museo del Barrio, New York; and En Foco Gallery, Bronx, New York, among many other institutions.