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Photographic Beginnings
The Castle The Counterculture Social Activism and the Counterculture Communal Living Organizing Woodstock Afterword

The "Road Hog" bus, El Rito, New Mexico, Fourth of July parade, 1968. Buses, decorated in psychedelic colors, provided a home on the road as groups staged protests and created happenings.

A Visual Journey

Lisa Law's story is one among thousands that emerged from American society in the turbulent 1960s. Americans in that era faced many controversial issues-from civil rights, the Vietnam War, nuclear arms, and the environment to drug use, sexual freedom, and nonconformity.

Many young people questioned America's materialism and cultural and political norms. Seeking a better world, some used music, politics, and alternative lifestyles to create what came to be known as the counterculture.

Lisa Law's photographs provide glimpses into the folk and rock music scenes, California's blossoming counterculture, and the family-centered and spiritual world of commune life in New Mexico. They are moments that she lived, witnessed, and recorded on the frontier of cultural change.

The exhibit is divided into eight sections:

1. Introduction
2. Photographic Beginnings
3. The Castle
4. The Counterculture
5. Social Activism and the Counterculture
6. Communal Living
7. Organizing Woodstock
8. Afterword


Historical Background

In the 1950s, the culture reflected on TV, taught in school, and promoted by political and religious leaders prescribed an ideal for American life. This American way of life was the means to achieve and sustain political freedom and middle-class comfort. In the Cold War with the Soviet Union, Americans could protect their freedoms and prosperity by fulfilling set roles and respecting authority. For a generation that had struggled through the Great Depression and fought World War II, conformity was a small price to pay for stability and prosperity.

Yet some who grew up in this postwar world felt its expectations were restricting and its rewards unsatisfying. Security and conformity seemed less important than self-expression. Material success and prestige did not seem as desirable as meaningful human relationships. As they gradually became aware of poverty and racial injustice in America, some young people questioned the accepted view of the United States as an ideal and fully free society.