“Just Off Route 66” presentation focuses on WPA

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One of the good things that came out of a very hard time, the Great Depression, was art: the making of more than 80,000 paintings, photos, murals, posters, sculp­tures and crafts.

Many of them were cre­ated because the artists and craftspeople were supported through the federal Works Progress Administration.

Smaller than the WPA’s public works projects, the art project eventually employed all kinds of art­ists – more than 8 million people – paying them each $53 a month, or about $730 in today’s money.

In her recent slideshow at the Amherst Town Li­brary, Nancy Baker, a retired Souhegan High School teacher who is executive chairwoman of the Guild of Volunteers at the Currier Museum of Art, showed iconic as well as little-known artworks from the 1930s.They boosted morale, stirred social conscious­ness and gave hope to a nation that badly needed it, she said.

“We didn’t become bit­ter or lose our sense of self, in general,” Baker said. “We came out of the 1930s better than ever.”

Baker’s presentation, called “Just Off Route 66,” was part of the ongo­ing “Big Read,” an Na­tional Endowment for the Arts project that this year centers around John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.” Read more.

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