An illustrated guide to the lasting legacy of FDR's federally funded art projects in South Carolina
New Deal Art in South Carolina captures the struggles of South Carolina artists to depict the typical "American scene" while working within the restraints and expectations of government patronage. As part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal response to the crippling economic effects of the Great Depression, artists were hired through the U.S. Treasury Department's Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) to produce high-quality public art to reflect and enhance the American way of life. In South Carolina the PWAP commissioned eighteen artists, including established figures such as Ann Taylor Nash, Margaret Moore Walker, Eliza Mims, and Faith Murry as well as those just beginning their careers. They produced easel paintings, sculptures, and murals across the state, including Stefan Hirsch's controversial "Justice as Protector and Avenger" mural in the Aiken Federal Courthouse.
The more extensive Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP) followed, offering a work-relief program with a broader range of projects, including illustrating publications for the Federal Writers' Project, restoring Charleston's historic Dock Street Theatre, and developing art education classes.
Through insightful text and compelling images, this illustrated survey of New Deal art projects in South Carolina showcases the efforts to bring art into the daily lives of hardscrabble Southerners during tough economic times. Issues of race, power, and memory dominate these works of art, mirroring the influence of those themes on all facets of Southern culture then and now.