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Artists and the WPA


Imagine what it was like to be an American artist at the beginning of the Great Depression of the 1930s. The American economy had collapsed, leaving millions jobless, poor, and filled with despair. Under such difficult conditions, you might think that art and artists would be altogether forgotten, but this was not so. Between 1933 and 1943, the federal government used taxpayers' dollars to sponsor many different art projects. These projects were associated with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. The projects helped to employ jobless artists and keep American art and culture alive during one of the darkest decades this nation has ever known. The kinds of art created under the WPA differed in interesting ways from previous works. Artists were profoundly influenced by the changes taking place in American society.

Try This

Take a trip on the Internet and learn all about the art and artists connected with the WPA. Click on the button that will print out your worksheet, then click on the selection listed in your Artist's Passport below. As you explore the site, study the artworks created during the Depression. Think about the ways artists respond to historical changes. Then, ask yourself how you, a young artist in your own right, are connected to the present historical moment. If possible, download and print out images of your favorite works to include with your worksheet. Print Worksheet

Artist's Passport Web Links

New Deal for the Arts


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