American mural painting reached its zenith in the decade of the 1930s. With support from the federally funded Works Progress Administration, over 5,000 artists were employed to produce sculptures, paintings and murals for public buildings. Muralists alone completed over 2,500 works in libraries, schools, hospitals and courthouses. Artists depicted stylized figures in uniquely American scenes.
The muralists were the most visible part of the Federal Art Project. Spectators watched as artists worked on scaffolding with paint and brush over extended periods of time in public spaces. Murals raised the country’s spirits, educated the citizenry, and promoted national travel spots as America struggled to free itself from the Great Depression. Pictured are a few examples detailing the diversity of the Works Progress Administration art.
This mural was completed as part of the 2014 Southern Utah Museum of Art Public Art Summer Camp. Local youth, 13-15 years of age, spent two weeks learning about the history of Cedar City and developing basic painting and drawing skills. Professional artists Katharine Villard, Arlene Braithwaite and Jennifer Rasmusson consulted with students throughout the process helping to refine their work.
The mural explores the five themes of Iron County. Recreation is portrayed in the background with Cedar Breaks Monument and The Parowan Gap. Cedar City’s agricultural history is represented through hay, sheep and cattle to the left. Mining is symbolized by the electric shovel, coke ovens, blast furnace, mining camp and Old Iron Town in the center. In the lower right a train pulling into the depot and the historic Utah parks buses represents tourism. Finally, on the right; Old Main, The Adams Historic Theater, The Southern Utah Museum of Art and the statue of Old Sorrel are symbolic of Cedar City’s commitment to education. The mural is signed by the camp's participants and guest artists. Be sure to explore this work more closely on your next visit to Frontier Homestead State Park Museum.