Viewing page 4 of 48


West Texas".9 If "Spanish-American" farmers were considered objectionable in a temporary photography exhibit, how much more unacceptable would their presence be in permanently located regional murals. Thus historical paintings focused on the more acceptable Spanish conquerors and friars, believed to be wholly European without the admixture of Indian ancestry, or an occasional picturesque Mexican. Indians themselves were depicted as placid converts to Christianity (local communities frequently objected to more warlike images); seldom as serfs or workers.
Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project. The considerably larger Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP), established in 1935 with Holger Cahill as head, had a more catholic approach toward style and subject matter - or as one writer puts it, "a more populist and pluralistic spirit."10 The official description of WPA/FAP work emphasized "art rich in social content" as well as "a fresh poetry of the soil."11 More locally oriented than Bruce's Section, it was correspondingly more subject to pressures not only from local supervisors, but from the anti-New Deal press which attacked certain murals - particularly those made or influenced by the Mexican muralists - as "un-American in theme and design" and possessed of "communistic influence" which might exert an alien effect upon children and adults who view them.12 In Chicago, for example, the works of Mexican-inspired muralists Mitchell Siporin and Edgar Britton were singled out for attacks of this sort.


Bruce's reference to the "Mexican invasion on the border" was occasioned by the presence of Mexican artists, particularly the muralists Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros who painted murals in the United States between 1930 and 1934 and in 1940 with teams of U.S. artists as helpers. They were undeniably influential from the 1920s on in establishing the terms of social
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact