Browse the Permanent Art Collection

The WPA was the largest and most comprehensive of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. Approximately 5,000 artists were employed under the WPA’s Federal Art Project between 1935 and 1943. Many WPA artists depicted the American scene with images of labor, leisure, industry, and urban life. Social realists created paintings and prints to promote social change. A small group of modernists, influenced by European movements, believed abstraction was the new reality.

In 1943 the Federal Government allocated over 300 prints, posters, drawings, paintings, and sculptures to ISU from the Works Projects Administration's (WPA) Federal Art Project. The collection represents the wide range of images created by American scene artists, social realists, and modernists. Among the most important works are paintings by Social Surrealists George Marinko, Waldo Kaufer, and Julio de Diego and Modernists Joseph Stella and Paul Kelpe. The collection also includes a selection of prints by acclaimed African American artists Dox Thrash, Samuel Brown, Raymond Steth, and Sargent Johnson.

Click on the images below to browse a selection of images from the WPA Collection.

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