Editor's note: The Michigan State University Museum provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Michigan State University Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:
The Federal Art Project: Supporting Good Artists in Bad Times
January 27 - August 24, 2008
Among the many projects to come out of the Great Depression and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal government programs to combat massive unemployment are those that dealt with the arts, architecture and crafts of American workers. Michigan State University Museum presents an exhibition of pieces from public work projects in Michigan and on the Michigan State College campus during the 1930s and early '40s.
"The Federal Art Project: Supporting Good Artists in Bad Times" opens January 27, 2008 in the Heritage Gallery and runs through August 24, 2008. In addition, a historic mural makes its debut after a complete restoration. An opening reception is set for Sunday, February 3, at 2 p.m.
About the exhibit: More than 8,500,000 Americans were hired through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) mostly to build roads, public buildings and parks. Unemployed artists and writers were also given work through branches of the WPA known as the Federal Art Project and the Federal Writers' Project. Their lasting legacy can still be seen and enjoyed throughout the state and the nation.
Michigan State University and Michigan State University Museum collections are rich with examples of a WPA legacy of art and craft. Included in the exhibit are miniature barn models that were used to educate farmers across the state on more efficient construction techniques. Also in the exhibit: a series of dolls dressed in detailed period costumes, and a set of miniature pieces of historic furniture styles for MSC Home Economics students studying the history of clothing or furniture design. A large relief map of the campus was created in 1941 by WPA craftpersons. Its accurately detailed miniature buildings and natural features can be compared with the growth of the present campus.
Museum collections also house examples of Michigan Native American WPA projects that produced rustic furniture for hunting lodges as well as skis, snowshoes, fishing creels and decorative arts utilizing traditional native materials and craft techniques. Sculptures created by Leonard Jungwirth for the Michigan School for the Blind and a bust of Mark Twain by Samuel Cashwan reflect the Federal Arts Project. Jungwirth later became a sculpture instructor at MSU and created the well-known Sparty statue. The exhibition will also present some of the many local murals and sculptures through photographs of these works.
The Michigan State University Museum is commemorating American's New Deal Heritage and the nationwide 75th anniversary of the New Deal in 2008 with "The Federal Art Project: Supporting Good Artists in Bad Times." The Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University is also taking part in this nationwide New Deal anniversary, with an exhibit set for September 2 - October 12, 2008: "Works On Paper Gallery: WPA Edgar Yaeger." For more information on the WPA, click here.
Also of interest: The Art Museum at MSU has also developed a New Deal Art and Architecture Campus Walking Tour, featuring WPA-era buildings, free-standing sculpture, low-reliefs and murals throughout the Michigan State University campus. Learn more about the museum's virtual walking tour of New Deal art and architecture in the Lansing, East Lansing area here.
Historic mural restored for Michigan State University Museum exhibit
The exhibit also features a newly restored WPA-era historic mural from the museum's collections. "Natural Resources of Northern Michigan," a 1936 painting by Carl H. Frezell (1901-1970) depicts underground and open pit mining, logging, agriculture, and tourism -- industries vital to the economy of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP) in the 1930s. His themes and large-scale, robust workers accentuate an optimistic view that the natural resources and labor force of the UP were keys to the nation's growth as it recovered from the Great Depression.
The mural was restored pro bono by Elizabeth Kendall (B.A. '84), owner of Parma Conservation in Chicago, Ill., one of the country's leading conservators of murals and paintings. The 70 x 181 inches oil-on-canvas mural has been part of the MSU Museum's historical collections since 1957 and was previously located in the MSU Museum auditorium. The painstaking conservation involved surface cleaning, stabilization of materials, protection from the ravages of long-term exposure to airborne pollutants and ultraviolet light, as well as repairing some dents and divots -- the unfortunate result of an errant tennis ball some years ago.
About Michigan State University Museum
The museum, initiated in 1857, is one of the oldest museums in the Midwest and is accredited by the American Association of Museums. In 2001, the MSU Museum became the first museum in the state to receive Smithsonian affiliate status from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the world's largest museum and research complex, thereby giving the MSU Museum broader access to Smithsonian cultural and scientific resources. The museum features three floors of special collections and changing exhibits and is located on West Circle Drive next to Beaumont Tower on the MSU campus in East Lansing, MI. The MSU campus also features the Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University. Please see the museum's web site for admission prices and hours.
Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy:
Google Book Searches conducted in 2008 and 2013 by Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) located the following brochures, catalogues and gallery guides published on paper in connection with the Museum and with a topic of American representational art. The list may not include all relevant publications. Titles are listed by date of publication, with most recent listed first. Information on publications may be in error or incomplete. Titles may be followed by links to related essays published by Resource Library. See Definitions for more information on finding brochures, catalogues and gallery guides using TFAO's website.
Craft Works! Michigan: A Report on Traditional Crafts and Economic Development in Michigan, By Marsha MacDowell, Julie Avery. Published by Michigan State University Museum, 2006. 73 pages
Gatherings: Great Lakes Native Basket and Box Makers, By Marsha MacDowell, Sara Greensfelder, Published by Michigan State University Museum, 2003. ISBN 0944311148, 9780944311141. 50 pages
Four Works by Fairfield Porter, By,April Kingsley, Published by Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, 2002. 4 pages
African American Quiltmaking in Michigan, by Marsha L. MacDowell, ed. Published: Michigan State University Press with the Michigan State University Museum, 1997. Pages: 162. ISBN: 0870134108. Google Books says: " Essays by Marsha MacDowell, Darlene Clark Hine, Cuesta Benberry, and Bill Harris examine the history and meaning of quilting in individual artist's lives and within the contexts of community and family. Also included are excerpts of interviews with quilters Sarah Carolyn Reese, Ione Todd, Deonna Green, and Rosa Parks." Information courtesy of Michigan State University Museum.
The Prints of John S. DeMartelly, 1903-1979, By Bill North, John S. DeMartelly, Published by Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, 1997. ISBN 1879147149, 9781879147140. 96 pages. Google Books says: "Exhibition catalogue"--T.p. verso.
To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions, by Marsha L. MacDowell and C. Kurt Dewhurst, eds. Published: Santa Fe, New Mexico: Museum of New Mexico Press in association with Michigan State University Museum, 1997. Pages: 230. ISBN: 0890133174. Google Books says: "Issued in conjunction with a national exhibition of the same name, this publication explores the history and meaning of quiltmaking within Native communities across North America and Hawaii. The volume features essays on contemporary and historical quilting traditions, quilt collections, quilt documentation projects, and quilters, exploring such topics as a basketball tournament star quilt ceremony, quilts and Hopi baby naming ceremonies, and quilting and fundraising activities on a Mohawk reservation." Information courtesy of Michigan State University Museum.
Anishnaabek: Artists of Little Traverse Bay, by Marsh. Google Books says: a MacDowell, ed. Published: East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum and The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, 1996. Pages: 73 ISBN: 0944311091. " This publication features the work of thirty-one artists who are Ottawa/Odawa and/or Chippewa/Ojibwa, descendants of nineteenth-century bands who lived in what are now Emmet, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Delta counties in Michigan. The book includes photos of their work, photographic portraits of the artists by Minnie Wabanimkee, and essays and artist biographical sketches by Frank Ettawageshik, Marsha MacDowell, Minnie Wabanimkee, James M. McClurken, and Kathy VanDeCar with Robert Shagonaby. " Information courtesy of Michigan State University Museum.
Sisters of the Great Lakes: Art of American Indian Women, By Marsha MacDowell, Janice Reed, Douglas Elbinger. Published by Michigan State University Museum ; Nokomis Learning Center, 1995. ISBN 0944311083, 9780944311080. 53 pages. Google Books says: "The exhibit ... was developed by the Michigan State University Museum and the Nokomis Learning Center in partnership with the artists involved."--P. .
Your Wellwisher, J. B. Walker: A Midwestern Paper Cut-Out Artist, by C. Kurt Dewhurst and Marsha MacDowell. Published: East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1995. Pages: 57. Google Books says: " Examines the life and work of Midwestern paper cut-out artist John Brown Walker." Information courtesy of Michigan State University Museum.
Abraham Rattner Rediscovered., By Abraham Rattner, Susan J Bandes. Published by Michigan State University, Kresge Art Museum, 1992. 5 pages
Pat-riots to Patriots: American Irish in Caricature and Comic Art, By John Appel, Selma Appel. Contributor Draper Hill. Published by Michigan State University Museum, 1990. ISBN 0944311032, 9780944311035. 32 pages
Mary Schafer and Her Quilts, By Gwen Marston, Joe Cunningham. Published by Michigan State University Museum, 1990. ISBN 0944311040, 9780944311042. 58 pages
Quilts from the Albert and Merry Silber Collection, By Lynne Swanson, Marsha MacDowell. Published by Michigan State University Museum, 1988. 35 pages
Q is for Quilt: An Abc Quilt Pattern Book, By Gwen Marston, Kathryn Darnell. Published by Michigan State University Museum, 1987, 32 pages
Michigan Quilts: 150 Years of a Textile Tradition, By Marsha MacDowell, Ruth D. Fitzgerald. Published by Michigan State University Museum, 1987. ISBN 0944311008, 9780944311004. 177 pages
The Michigan Experience: A Traveling Exhibition of Paintings of Michigan Themes by Michigan Artists in Celebration of the State's Sesquicentennial, By Sadayoshi Omoto, Eldon N Van Liere. Published by Kresge Art Museum, Dept. of Art, Michigan State University, 1986
Catalogue Raisonné of the Prints of Peter Takal: Exhibition, Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, January 5-26, 1986, By Peter Takal, Joseph Ishikawa.. Published by Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, 1986. Original from the University of Michigan. Digitized Nov 14, 2007. 90 pages.Google Books says: "Produced in conjunction with an exhibition of Takal's prints at the Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, January 5-26, 1986"--T.p. verso. "snippit view."
Michigan 4-H Friendship Quilt: An Exhibition. Published by Cooperative Extension Service & the Museum, Michigan State University, 1983
Downriver and Thumb Area Michigan Waterfowling: The Folk Arts of Nate Quillen and Otto Misch, By C. Kurt Dewhurst, Marsha MacDowell. Published by Museum, Michigan State University, 1981. 14 pages
Cast in Clay: The Folk Pottery of Grand Ledge, Michigan, By C. Kurt Dewhurst, Marsha MacDowell. Published by Museum, Michigan State University, 1980. 73 pages
Rainbows in the Sky: Folk Art of Michigan in the 20th Century, by C. Kurt Dewhurst and Marsha MacDowell. Published: East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1978. Pages: 128. Google Books says: "This publication accompanied the 1978 exhibition of the same name. Includes biographies of artists, photographs of their work, and an essay on attitudes toward folk art." Information courtesy of Michigan State University Museum.
Book information courtesy of Google Books.
The potential for the essays in the above books to be placed online for free access by the public is of interest to TFAO. For information on digitizing initiatives from non profit organizations please see digitizing initiatives. Also please see commercial ventures. For information on two of TFAO's digitizing initiatives please click here for the Institutional Sources Study Project, here for the Collections-Centric Scholarly Texts Project, here for Resource Library's Scholarly texts services to Institutions, and here for TFAO's grant program for conversion of analog text to digital files and online publication of scholarly texts
Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other Web sites and in employing referenced consultants or vendors. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although Traditional Fine Art Organization, Inc. includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over those other sites. For more information on evaluating web pages see Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc.'s General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.
Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.
Copyright 2013 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.