In response to the nation’s devastating financial hardship, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration created federal work relief programs, which included the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP). Established in 1934, the PWAP was the first government program in the United States to support art on a national scale, providing unemployed artists with wages and creative opportunities. In 1935, it was replaced by the larger Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (FAP/WPA).
In contrast to the national scope of the Smithsonian Institution’s 1934 exhibition, A New Deal for Illinois examines New Deal art in the regional context of Chicago in the 1930s and in relation to the institutional history of WIU. The exhibition and accompanying catalog are the first scholarly studies to research the historical, socio-cultural and artistic factors associated with the formation of WIU’s FAP art collection.