“The Sweat of their Face: Portraying American Workers,” an exhibit on view at the National Portrait Gallery, contains well-known, even iconic, images.
These include “Power House Mechanic,” a black-and-white photograph by Lewis Hine; “The Miner,” an oil painting by Pat Lyon; “American Gothic,” by Gordon Parks, oil on beaver wood; “Mine America’s Coal,” by Norman Rockwell, “Cotton Pickers,” oil, by Winslow Homer, and “Migrant Mother,” a print by Dorothea Lange.
Other images are less known and even surprising, such as daguerreotypes by Joseph T. Zealy of semi-dressed slaves. Richard Avedon, best known for his work with celebrities and fashion icons, portrays migrant workers in a series of photographs.
But co-curators Dorothy Moss and David C. Ward are hoping that regardless of the individual images, viewers understand the exhibit’s goal.