Anonymous
Applied Design Block Printed Textiles
Color wood block on cotton
Racine Art Museum, WPA, Wisconsin FAP, Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project
Photography: Jon Bolton

Women and the WPA: As Seen Through RAM’s Collection

March 1 – September 23, 2023
at Racine Art Museum

Artwork produced through the Federal Art Project/Works Progress Administration (FAP/WPA) has long been a part of the Wustum Museum of Fine Arts and Racine Art Museum history, so there have been several showings of it over the years. Early gifts of WPA artwork—primarily textiles, drawings, watercolors, prints, and photography—also foreshadowed the collecting directions of Wustum and RAM with an emphasis on contemporary craft, works on paper, and works by women. However, this is the first exhibition focused primarily on the role of women artists associated with the WPA in RAM’s collection.

As seen through their artwork, these women artists reflected on the world around them—capturing the social, cultural, and everyday climate of a nation battling financial depression and somewhat unknowingly on the brink of a world war. While specific artists can be linked with the works on paper, most of the textile samples are attributed to anonymous craftspeople associated with the Milwaukee Handicraft Project (MHP). The MHP was a landmark Wisconsin-based endeavor that employed over 5,000 people—mainly women and many of color—to create handcrafted domestic-oriented goods to be sold to schools, libraries, and other public institutions.

Women and the WPA highlights a significant moment in American art and history through works on paper, textiles, and other objects associated with the MHP—including a recently acquired doll jacket and large fabric swatches.

Women and the WPA: As Seen Through RAM’s Collection

March 1 – September 23, 2023
at Racine Art Museum
Anonymous
Applied Design Block Printed Textiles
Color wood block on cotton
Racine Art Museum, WPA, Wisconsin FAP, Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project
Photography: Jon Bolton

Artwork produced through the Federal Art Project/Works Progress Administration (FAP/WPA) has long been a part of the Wustum Museum of Fine Arts and Racine Art Museum history, so there have been several showings of it over the years. Early gifts of WPA artwork—primarily textiles, drawings, watercolors, prints, and photography—also foreshadowed the collecting directions of Wustum and RAM with an emphasis on contemporary craft, works on paper, and works by women. However, this is the first exhibition focused primarily on the role of women artists associated with the WPA in RAM’s collection.

As seen through their artwork, these women artists reflected on the world around them—capturing the social, cultural, and everyday climate of a nation battling financial depression and somewhat unknowingly on the brink of a world war. While specific artists can be linked with the works on paper, most of the textile samples are attributed to anonymous craftspeople associated with the Milwaukee Handicraft Project (MHP). The MHP was a landmark Wisconsin-based endeavor that employed over 5,000 people—mainly women and many of color—to create handcrafted domestic-oriented goods to be sold to schools, libraries, and other public institutions.

Women and the WPA highlights a significant moment in American art and history through works on paper, textiles, and other objects associated with the MHP—including a recently acquired doll jacket and large fabric swatches.

Gallery of Work

Exhibitions at RAM are made possible by:

Platinum Sponsors

Judith and David Flegel Fund
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Ron and Judith Isaacs
Nicholas and Nancy Kurten
Windgate Foundation

Diamond Sponsors

Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation
Ruffo Family Foundation

Gold Sponsors
Anonymous
David Charak
Silver Sponsors
Art Bridges
A.C. Buhler Family
Andis Foundation
Baird
Lucy G. Feller
Ben and Dawn Flegel
Annette Hirsh Family
J. Jeffers & Co.
Dorothy MacVicar
RDK Foundation

Jan Serr and John Shannon
Bronze Sponsors

Anonymous
Susan Boland
Virginia Buhler
Butcher & Barrel/Amos Los Tacos
Educators Credit Union
Express Employment Professionals
Get Behind the Arts Studio Tour
William A. Guenther
Tom and Sharon Harty
Tony and Andrea Hauser
David and Judy Hecker
Bradley Lynch
Carlotta Miller
Larry and Barbara Newman
The Norbell Foundation
The Prairie School
Georgiana Treivush
Twin Disc, Inc.
Deb and Will Walker

Love Art?  You’ll Love RAM!

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