An Eye Towards Justice: The Photographs of Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel

Author: Paul J
An Eye Towards Justice

A Labor Archives and Research Center Exhibition  

Special Collections Gallery, J. Paul Leonard Library, San Francisco State University 

Fall 2022-Spring 2023 | open Monday-Thursday 1:00pm to 5:00pm

With curators Catherine Powell & Wendy Welker

Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel created a compelling body of work documenting the critical social transformations of the 20th century in the United States from a working-class perspective. They emigrated to the United States around 1930 just as the Great Depression began and became itinerant farm laborers. Working in the fields profoundly shaped their worldview and they came to feel the purpose of their photographic work was “to contribute to an understanding of the inequities of the world.” The exhibition highlights their images of the economic hardships of the depression, the transformations to the Bay Area brought by World War II, communities and individuals standing up for justice, and longshore workers facing the impact of mechanization. The work of Mieth and Hagel is relatively unknown today and our aim with the current exhibition is to celebrate and bring wider attention to their significant contributions to the canon of documentary photography. 

This exhibition was generously funded by the Friends of the J. Paul Leonard Library.