WPA posters thanks to FDR and forward-thinking government projects

09/18/08 :: by stina

I was pleasantly reminded of the WPA National Park poster series while perusing Shorpy (thanks to patrick’s tip) this morning. I love the bright, pre-computer graphics and the adventurous, frontier-sy feeling of exploration and, dare I say, majesty they convey.

I can only imagine (enviously) what it must have felt like to tour the country in the late 30’s, stopping at national parks where you legitimately might have been the only car on the road. It’s a lovely thought… and quite a departure from the madness of summertime in Yosemite Valley now.

For those hungry for a little history lesson, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) was part of FDR’s New Deal, instated to put millions of unemployed Americans back to work. A key part of the WPA was the Federal Art Project, whose purpose was to make art accessible and relevant to everyone, not just the elite. As a result these, along with 35,000 other designs, were printed into 2 million posters during the course of the project.

This Travel and Tourism series became well know for it’s bright, bold colors and it’s dramatic portrayal of our famous national parks. As an avid hiker, camper, and visitor to our (mostly western) national parks, I find these particularly beautiful and inspiring.

If only our current government would have the cajones to revive the idea that art can be a positive and motivating influence on the masses. Maybe our next president will… after all he’s already shown an appreciation for art.

Obama-Biden 2008!

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