An exhibit of images through the eyes lens of renown photographer Marion Palfi is coming to the Phoenix Art Museum.
“Freedom Must Be Lived: Marion Palfi’s America, 1940-1978” opens Wednesday, July 21 and will run through January at the museum located at 1625 N. Central Avenue. The exhibit will survey the career of Palfi (1907–1978), who produced an important visual document of 20th-century American injustice.
“Freedom Must Be Lived” features more than 100 photographic prints and numerous archival materials, including photobooks, magazine spreads, research journals, and grant applications, drawn exclusively from the Center for Creative Photography’s vast Marion Palfi Archive. Many of these prints and materials have never before been exhibited or published, and will offer an unprecedented opportunity to draw new insights into the work, according to the museum.
“Palfi’s philosophy of using photography to influence social change shaped her vision and distinguished her career,” the museum notes on its promotional material for the exhibit. “A German immigrant to the United States during World War II, Palfi arrived in Los Angeles to find a reality far from the myth of the American Dream. Outraged at the economic, racial, and social inequalities she encountered, she spent more than three decades traveling throughout the United States documenting various communities to expose the links between racism and poverty.”
As a self-described “social research photographer,” Palfi aspired for her photographs to live in the world and effect social change, the museum explains. Her work was featured in numerous American periodicals, including Ebony and The New York Times.
Sponsors for her work included the Council Against Intolerance in America, the NAACP, and the New York State Committee on Discrimination in Housing.
Each of the photographer’s four major projects are represented in the exhibition, including her nationwide study of children living in poverty; her decades-long civil rights activism documenting the effects of systemic racism against African Americans; her research on the abject conditions of aging in New York; and her revelatory pictures, funded by a 1967 Guggenheim Fellowship, of the forced relocation of indigenous off of reservations in the Southwest.