This past December, Milton Rogovin turned 100 years old. For his birthday party, the invitation referred to him as: photographer, optometrist, veteran, father and activist.
Born in New York City in 1909, Rogovin started out intending to become an optometrist, studying at Columbia University. But he was radicalized by what he witnessed during the Great Depression. In 1957 he was summoned to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee. While at that time he felt that his voice as an organizer was silenced, he believed that through photography he could continue to make his political voice heard.
He set out to photograph those who were not the rich or glamorous in society – but instead those he called the Forgotten Ones. His series include Storefront Churches, Working People, Family of Miners, Chile, a community over three decades, and the Yemeni and Native American communities.
Although Rogovin had no training as a photographer, his artistic influences came from his study of the art that he loved – that of Kathe Kollwitz, Van Gogh, Francisco Goya and the muralists and printmakers of Mexico.
Over 1,000 of his photographs are on view at his website, www.miltonrogovin.com. Rogovin would like to have his photos used as curriculum in school and other settings. Photographs on the website are organized by series and themes in downloadable folios and are accompanied by a Teacher’s Guide to help educators use the folios in their classroom. The site also has updated information on Rogovin’s exhibits, awards and resources including books, posters and films.
Other resources on Rogovin are available at the Library of Congress/Washington, the Center for Creative Studies/Tucson, the J. Paul Getty Museum/Los Angeles and the Burchfield Penney Art Center/Buffalo.
Rogovin, who lives in Buffalo, N.Y., has not let age slow him down. Those who would like to meet him can find him every Saturday at noon at the Women in Black antiwar vigil at Bidwell and Elmwood in Buffalo.
Photo: From Milton Rogovin website, www.miltonrogovin.com