Viewing page 34 of 63

This transcription has been completed. Contact us with corrections.

Jersey Homesteads
Hightstown, New Jersey
November 7, 1940

Mr. Edward B. Rowan
Section of Fine Arts
Federal Works Agency
Washington, D.C.

Dear Ed:

Following is a detailed description of the content of the Social Security Building mural sketches, with titles for the seperate panels.

Your choice of the quotation from President Roosevelt's message to Congress has stood me in good stead. Since I have an embarrassment of riches in social security material - both in feeling and in data - I have taken the President's words around which to build the mural. They afford a much-needed limitation as well as a motif:-

"Among our objectives I place the security of the men and women and children of the Nation first.

"This security for the individual and for the family concerns itself primarily with three factors. People want decent homes to live in; they want to locate them where they can engage in productive work; and they want some safeguard against misfortunes which cannot be wholly eliminated in this man-made world of ours."

[[left margin]] (West Wall) [[/left margin]]

Thus, I have used the long unobstructed west wall of the building to interpret the meaning of social security, and to show something of its accomplishments. On this wall I have developed the following themes:

"Work" "The Family" "Social Security"

As a plastic means of emphasizing these themes I have placed each group over a doorway in large scale, projecting them somewhat forward from the rest of the mural. 

[[left margin]] The Family
Social Security 
Public Works 
The Harvest [[/left margin]]

Using the Family as a central theme, over the middle door, I have placed over the left door, the theme of Work, over the right that of Security. Immediately surrounding the Family are, on the right side, the building of homes, on the left, a suggestion of tremendous public works, furnishing employment and benefitting all of society. At the extreme [[strikethrough]] left [[/strikethrough]] right of the panel are seen youths of a slum area engages in healthy sport in handball courts. At the extreme [[strikethrough]] left [[/strikethrough]] right of the panel is seen the Harvest - threshing and fruit-gathering, obvious symbols of security, suggesting also, security as it applies to the farm family.

Thus, we have:

[[left margin]] (East Wall) [[/left margin]]

Since the panels of the east wall are recessed, and because the evils of insecurity have been somewhat ameliorated, I have used that wall to portray the insecurity of men, women and children.

[[left margin]] Unemployment [[/left margin]]

Unemployment being the greatest cause of insecurity, I have devoted to it the large central panel. I have tried to give the feeling of endless waiting, men