Like Ourselves: Forecast for Survey Graphic
by Paul Kellogg
One silver lining to the depression has been
woven by the works program. We had looked to the arts as signs
and symbols of a new American culture; the hard times laid them
flat. Musicians, painters, sculptors, architects, writers, playwrights,
actors, dancers, recreation leaders contributed to the mounting
number of the unemployed. And then through the alchemy of FERA
"white collar" projects something happened that outran the succor
to stranded ar tists. School houses and public buildings throughout
the country had their faces lifted with murals. Playgrounds, playstreets
and ball fields sprang up like mushrooms. Bands, orchestras, groups
of players brought recreation and the gleam of something outside
their cares to districts which, in the old army phrase, had nothing
to spend but their time. Something was at work that opened wider
the inheritance of our people and has "lifted the level of life"
for whole neighborhoods and communities. In sequence, the WPA
has set aside $27 million as a temporary subsidy to writers, musicians,
artists and actors. It is all very experimental, but breaks ground
for a conception that parallels our attitude toward public education.
This is only half the story. In any time of
change the ferment is felt most quickly among the arts. The poets
and novelists catch it, the painters, the composers, the playwrights.
The philosophy back of the fiction, for example, takes as many
forms as the philosophy men bring to a common experience. But
it is sentient to the economic struggle.
In visualizing the stuff of human affairs,
Survey Graphic has long made use not only of graphs, charts,
maps, but of etchings, paintings, frescos, sculpture. In the coming
year we shall interpret the arts themselves as a responsive but
developing part of any current history of the 1930s.