Monday, July 17, 2017

New Deal Recycling and Refuse Art (2/5): "Scrap Iron"

Above: "Scrap Iron," a lithograph by Herman R. Volz (1904-1990), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1939. Volz was in a non-relief, supervisory position in the WPA, and recalled that time period in a 1964 interview with the Smithsonian: "We had a wonderful cohesion with us really. I would think that the period when we were on the WPA was one of the nicest periods I have spent in America with artists. There was a friendship there, there was a kind of a direction everybody went, you know. I think it was a very decent period... our period in America of the WPA was a glorious period." When asked about a new WPA-type program for artists, Volz suggested a cabinet-level position in the White House, "because in a Cabinet post you can directly appeal to the public, you know, and making it on a Federal basis is very, very important. And put a certain amount of money aside for a cultural development subsidy, millions of it." A year after Volz's interview, Congress created the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Interestingly, the Trump Administration wants to eliminate the NEA, despite the NEA's strong 50-year support for state & local art programs. But Congress has rejected that part of Trump's budget proposal, and recently increased funding for the arts. Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

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