NATIONALIZING ART

While a more democratic and more local perception of art had been established and appreciated by the WPA efforts, the US government still anchored its focus toward creating an identifiable national culture. The establishment of the Community Art Center Program was an important strategic intiative within the Federal Art Program's interventionist cultural policy (Harris, Federal Art and National Culture) Those who conceived of the program intended it to dissolve what they perceived to be an antagonism between tradtional, popular notions of the artist and the new Deal State's concept of the citizen (Harris). One of the major ideas behind the art created was for it to serve as a nationally unifying force. In order for the art to function in that capacity, the both the availability of it and the way it was viewed by the American public would have to change. "Our art must become as democratic as science and the children in the playgrounds of our cities," said Beniamino Bufano, a reporter during the depression(Bufano, For the Present We Are Busy). "We must have artists who have schooled themselves in the crafts to help us produce." "Art, to have power, must have these things." If we are to create a living art for a living world, we must have help," he argued. That help arrived in the form of government commission for all types of artists to create under specific guidline and help construct a national sense of identity. As previously mentioned, those specific instructions often lead to the cultivation of specific regional identities, and not necessarily, at least originally, one complete national one.

But ultimately, it was the art that helped make people aware of the places in which they were living and the people they were living amongst and the attitudes and lifestyles they shared. Ultimately, it was the regional identities generated by location specific artists that merged to create the national identity and sense of self that the American government was striving for. However, it was also the increased sense of "culture" and the oppurtunity to experience and understand its concept brought about by the mass production of art during the Great Depression that cemented this nation's national culture and helped provide many Americans with an understanding of who they were.

For a look and understanding of some of the specific artwork, explore the murals and photographs links.

MURALS

PHOTOS