Jacob Riis’s Vision

Jacob Riis: "Street Arabs" circa 1890 http://www.museumsyndicate.com/item.php?item=42964
Jacob Riis: “Street Arabs” circa 1890

The idea that art and social change are linked is not a new one. Jacob Riis, a late-19th century/early-20th century photographer, is only one example of someone who has  been using their artwork to call attention to social problems throughout history. Riis used his photography to help the impoverished in New York City. While he was not perfect–and is critiqued for his racist and offensive views–Riis worked hard to create social reform in New York City by using the relatively recent invention of flash photography to document slums, tenement houses, dark streets and other hardships of the poor . Riis’s photography can be seen in The Museum of the City of New York‘s online collection.


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