New Mexico Art Tells its History

Cordova, Rio Arriba County - Collier

Cordova, Rio Arriba County, NM, 1943 (printed 1990)
John Collier Jr. (American, 1913 - 1992)
gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 in. (20.3 x 25.4 cm)
New Mexico Farm Security Administration Collection, Museum purchase with funds from the Pinewood Foundation with additional support from Barbara Erdman, 1990

John Collier, Jr. grew up around Taos, as his father was a social activist who later served as the Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1933 to 1945. When Collier was twelve, he was apprenticed to Maynard Dixon, a well-known painter, but it was Dixon’s wife, Dorothea Lange, who introduced him to photography. In the 1930s, he spent time with the photographer Paul Strand and set up his first photographic studio in Strand's old darkroom in Taos. From 1941 to 1943, Collier worked as a photographer with the Farm Securities Administration and the Office of War Information documenting many areas around the eastern U.S and northern New Mexico, particularly the communities of Cebolla, Truchas, Peñasco and Picuris; he also documented the Navajo Reservation from 1938-1972. One of the recurrent themes of Collier's work is the use of photography and film in the analysis of educational processes.

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