Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
Web Tools and Search Bar
University Art Gallery
WIU Art at the Figge Art Museum
A New Deal for Illinois: The Federal Art Project Collection of Western Illinois University
September 14, 2013-January 5, 2014
|Western Illinois University's Federal Art Project Collection was formed in the 1930s when university officials commissioned works through the Public Works of Art Project, and later through the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (FAP/WPA). These paintings and prints once decorated classrooms, hallways and other public spaces on campus. While art of the WPA era is traditionally viewed as overwhelmingly naturalistic in style and devoted to traditional regionalist subject matter, the WIU collection actually represents the aesthetic and thematic diversity of much of the art that was produced under the auspices of the Federal Art Project. Many of the artists commissioned by WIU were based in Chicago and were involved in the city's cosmopolitan and progressive urban art scene. The collection boasts works by notable artists such as Archibald J. Motley Jr., Gertrude Abercrombie, and Romolo Roberti who were active in many of the innovative artistic movements of the 1930s, such as Precisionism, Surrealism, Art Deco, and Social Realism. Many of the works feature subjects inspired by the artists' experiences in either Chicago or rural sectors of Illinois and offer a fascinating creative perspective on life in the state during a complex period of profound social and economic hardship. The exhibition is organized by the WIU Art Gallery and sponsored by the WIU Foundation. The accompanying exhibition catalog is written by guest curator Dr. Gregory Gilbert, chair of Art History at Knox College, Galesburg.||
Archibald J. Motley Jr. Jazz Singers. 1934. Oil on canvas. Western Illinois University Art Gallery.
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Program, Public Buildings Service, U.S. General Services Administration.
Commissioned through the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP)