Of photography Consuelo Kanaga has written, "Most people try to be striking to catch the eye. I think the thing is not to catch the eye but catch the spirit."
Kanaga (1894-1978) herself was a woman of unusual spirit. In 1915 she became a reporter for the San Franci5co Chronicle, a rare profession for a woman at the time. A few years later she began a career as a newspaper photographer. Covering the city for the Chronicle, Kanaga photographed society events as well as long- shorernen's strikes. According to one co-worker, "Consuelo would go anywhere."
Kanaga traveled widely-in Europe as well as America- and often turned her camera on the faces of the poor and suffering. She was among the first photographers to portray African Americans in personal portraits that differed radically from the anonymous documentary style in which they were usually pictured. A lifelong champion of integration, she joined the Civil Rights Peace Marchers in Albany, Georgia, when she was well into her seventies.
Among her friends were the eminent photographers Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston. In 1992 a retrospective exhibit of Kanaga's work at the Brooklyn Museum, and the accompanying publication of Consuelo Kanaqa: An American Photographer by Sarah Lowe and Barbara Millstein, helped place Kanaga's ground- breaking work in the public eye once again.