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Government-Supported Art from the Era of the Great Depression on View at the Gibbes

Historic prints make a bold statement about the importance of art

(Charleston, SC) America at Work: WPA Prints from the Gibbes Collection, on view at the Gibbes Museum of Art August 25, 2006 - April 15, 2007, represents the initiative of the Depression-era U.S. government to revitalize the nation through the visual arts and art education.  This exhibition showcases approximately 25 prints from the Gibbes’ permanent collection that were created under the auspices of the Federal Art project, an initiative that provided employment for out-of work artists and created artwork for such public buildings as county courthouses, post offices and libraries. 

 During the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched his ambitious Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs that sent millions of unemployed Americans back to work, including more than 5,000 artists.  Under the auspices of the WPA, the Federal Art Project afforded opportunities to a diverse group of artists, including women, African-Americans and immigrants from Russia, China and other countries.  Reputed to have created more than 200,000 separate works, FAP artists created posters, murals and paintings—some of which stand among the most significant pieces of public art in the country.  The Gibbes Museum of Art houses the only collection of WPA prints in South Carolina.  In 2004 the Gibbes was able to catalogue the collection through the generous support of Reba and Dave Williams, who funded the project through a grant from the Print Research Foundation, Stamford, Connecticut. 

The Gibbes Museum of Art thanks the Charleston Mercury, the exclusive sponsor of America at Work: WPA Prints from the Gibbes Collection.  Now in its fourth year of being in print, the Charleston Mercury impacts 40,000 affluent readers every two weeks.

Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1905. 

Located in Charleston’s historic district, the Gibbes houses a premier collection of over 10,000 works of fine art, principally American works with a Charleston or Southern connection and presents special exhibitions annually. In addition, the museum offers an extensive complement of public programming and educational outreach initiatives.

As the aesthetic heart of the Lowcountry, the Gibbes serves the community by stimulating creative expression, increasing economic vitality through tourism, and improving the region’s superb quality of life.

135 Meeting Street * Charleston, SC * 29401