Notebook, 1993-

Return to - Notes for a Perspective on Art Education

Perspective - The 1880's - 1900-1920, "Composition" - 1900-1920, 'School Arts' - 1900-1920, Art Education Associations - 1900-1920, Art Education in the Museum of Art - 1900-1920, The Modernists - 1914-1920, War and Post War - 1920's, Progressive Education - 1920's-1930's, Professional Stabilization - 1930's, Museum Education during the Depression - 1930's, National Government in Art - 1940's, A Psychology and Philosophy for Art Education

Notes from: Logan, Frederick M . Growth of Art in American Schools, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955.

Growth of Art
in American Schools

The 1930's, National Government in Art

. . . . the work of the various federal art projects and sponsorships of the 1930's . . . . When, in 1934, a relief program for artists was made part of the whole Works Progress Administration, rather than provide mere relief payments in the form of cash or food and rent, the aim of WPA was to provide gainful employment in work which the recipient of the relief check could do. Where possible, this could be achieved by setting up projects using particular skills and talents; such was the Art Project.

Accomplishments accredited to the Art Project, up to the time of its dissolution in 1939, were varied in quality and effectiveness. Some of the accomplishments have never been adequately recognized, while others have been unduly criticized.

The actual work that artists produced was amazing in quantity and quality: paintings in all possible media; stone, metal, concrete, and wood sculpture, much of it for specified architectural settings; prints[?] in all possible techniques, including a production in silk-screen printing which led virtually to a new industry both in the fine arts and in commercial practice. Then there was the now far-famed Index of American Design, the collection of thousands of painstakingly done plates illustrating copiously the folk arts of the whole nation for the past three hundred or more years. The personnel of this unit was composed [ ?] of older men recruited from the workers in lithography, engraving, and printing.

Besides the works of at produced --all available for the cost of the materials to public institutions requesting them --the people of the Art Project participated in hundreds of teaching and museum projects for children and adults in special-interest groups. The artists taught, lectured, and demonstrated from New York City to North Dakota and points in between and beyond. At first the bulk of the artists on the Art Project rolls were fairly experienced men and women; in its later years, large numbers of recent art-school graduates sought employment until teaching or part -time work gave them a more favorable income.

One of the valuable results of the Project was that of keeping a considerable group of younger artists in their home communities . . . . New York, Philadelphia, or Chicago could hardly be said to be a golden lure. Artists were sleeping in subways along with laborers. So scores of talented artists, realizing that the project gave them the opportunity to continue and mature their work beyond its student level, took advantage of whatever activity their local Project office provided.

Project artists found that they could work with schools and school administrators, with hosptial directors, with architects, with museum staff members, and with any number of other people in their community . . . . the communities . . . . found that the artists . . . . willing and successfully provided designs, posters, floats, all manner of decorations, stage settings, and any other related necessities [for Fourth of July parades or Christmas festivals].

To some extent in many places, they led the way in general art activity that we see at its best today in the community participation in schools, colleges, and museums. Many staff members in those institutions were Project members in earlier years.


[Notes from: Logan, Frederick M . Growth of Art in American Schools, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955.]



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