The author of more than three thousand folk songs, Woody Guthrie (1912–1967) is one of the most influential songwriters and recording artists in American history. He is an icon of the Depression era and wrote the world’s most famous protest song, “This Land Is Your Land.” But he was not only a songwriter, and his subject matter extended well beyond labor politics. The full corpus of his creativity—including lyrics, poetry, artwork, and largely unpublished prose writings—encompassed topics such as the environment, love, sex, spirituality, family, and racial justice.
The exhibition traces Guthrie’s life and career through his artistic response to several interrelated themes: place, politics, family, love, and spirituality. Running through these themes is an emphasis on Guthrie’s connection to “people”: to specific people in his life, historical figures of his era, and the anonymous workers, soldiers, and immigrants whose stories appear in so much of his music.
Image: Woody Guthrie / photo by Robin Carson, courtesy of Woody Guthrie Archives