“Art that Worked: WPA Prints from the Amity Art Foundation”

HANCEVILLE, Ala.—The Evelyn Burrow Museum at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville is currently hosting “Art That Worked: WPA Prints from the Amity Art Foundation.”

This exhibition, made possible by a grant from the Alabama Tourism Department and sponsored in part by the Wallace State Art Department, features more than 80 etchings and lithographs by Depression-era artists.

Art that Worked

Art that Worked

The WPA (Works Progress Administration) was created on May 6, 1935, as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, providing work and economic relief to Americans suffering through the Great Depression. The Federal Art Project was one of the divisions of the WPA created under Federal Project One. Its primary goals were to promote American art and artists, increase art education, and research the history of American art and design.

Roosevelt had made several attempts prior to the FAP to provide employment for artists on relief, including the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) from 1933 to 1934 and the Treasury Department Section of Painting and Sculpture in 1934. However, it was the FAP which provided the widest reach, creating more than 5,000 jobs for artists and producing more than 225,000 works of art.

“It is this legacy of the thousands of workers who labored at their craft for little money but great pride which we have to inspire us today,” writes Nancy Lorance, who has established wpamurals.org, a web site dedicated to documenting WPA art.

Some of the most prominent American artists of the era—artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Willem de Kooning, Arshille Gorky and Jackson Pollack— participated in the FAP. Others are virtual unknowns, leaving behind only the unforgettable images they produced, reflecting scenes of American life, both urban and rural, and depicting the common man at work and play.

Biographies of many of the known artists are included in the “Art That Worked” exhibition along with information from oral history interviews archived in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.

The Amity Art Foundation is a non-profit corporation in Connecticut created to promote the arts, with an emphasis on traditional graphic art techniques.

“Art That Worked” will be on display through the end of September and may be viewed anytime the Burrow Center is open. Burrow Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit burrowmuseum.org or call 256-352-8457.


"Drillers" by Frank Cassara


"Sailor" by Julius Block