The work of social documentary photographer Milton Rogovin is unparalleled among contemporary photographers. Rogovin is considered one of the finest social documentary photographers of the twentieth century.

“Portraits in Steel” chronicles the work and home lives of steelworkers in Western New York in the 1970s. In this work Rogovin documents the working families whose jobs would later be lost when the steel mills in Buffalo, Lackawanna and Dunkirk closed down. Many thousands were left without work. Rogovin’s work stands out in an artistic field awash with images devoid of social content. His study of working-class families on Buffalo’s Lower West Side, “Tryptichs,” offers a glimpse into the lives of families as they change through time in this largely Latino neighborhood.

Throughout his career Rogovin traveled extensively in the United States, Chile, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, Mexico, Scotland, Spain and Zimbabwe, documenting the lives of workers, working families, and bringing their struggles into the photographic record with a direct and compassionate eloquence seldom matched.

Selections from the wide array of Rogovin’s work are currently on display at the Burchfield-Penney Art Gallery on the Buffalo State College Campus in Buffalo, N.Y. The exhibit includes work from 1958 to the present. The National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts provided public funds for the exhibition and programs. The exhibit includes portraits of Lackawanna’s Yemeni community (1976-1977), photographs taken in Mexico in the 1950s from early in Rogovin’s career, work from the series “Storefront Churches” (1958-1961), and more contemporary work from “Children Having Children” (1993).

The exhibit will run in Buffalo through March 2 and in New York City, at the New-York Historical Society, in June. The Burchfield Penney Art Gallery is located on the 2nd floor in Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave. The Gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday 1-5 p.m. Admission is free.

The author can be reached at smitgl40@mail.buffalostate.edu

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