Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Deal Art: "Back of the Yards," and timeless misery

Above: "Back of the Yards," an oil painting by Mitchell Siporin (1910-1976), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1938. The painting "emphasizes the misery that workers across the country experienced during the Great Depression." To some degree, however, it is a timeless depiction of misery. For example, consider the record number of children who are homeless in America today. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, "A staggering 2.5 million children are now homeless in America each year." This homelessness is caused by "the nation's high poverty rate... lack of affordable housing... continuing impacts of the Great Recession... racial disparities... the challenges of single parenting and... traumatic experiences" ("America's Youngest Outcasts," November 2014). Meanwhile, the richest 400 Americans are adding tens, even hundreds of billions of dollars to their personal fortunes every year; and showing us great big smiles, completely oblivious to the misery they've created for so many (see, e.g., "For most workers, real wages have barely budged for decades," Pew Research Center, October 9, 2014, and "Worse Than Stagnant: Wages Fall for Recent College Grads," NBC News, June 5, 2015). Amazingly though, many voters continue to worship the super-rich, praising them as "job creators." Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


  1. Thank you for all the wonderful work you do!

    I have been so happy that I now have you automatically come on my page Adjunct Justice, since so many more folks can see the incredible work you do: not only do you find great historical pieces -- and beautiful art and photography to go with it -- but you link that art with such meaningful statistics of today, showing the bigger picture, and the connections: everything is related!

    I hope you have a happy new year, and you keep doing all the wonderful work you do. Thank you!

    Besos, not borders,

    Ana M. Fores Tamayo, Adjunct Justice
    Facebook Page:

    1. Thanks for the support! I'm trying to spread information, and also trying to get people to question the status quo.