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The New Deal Art Initiative

Since 2009, the Living New Deal has been documenting New Deal artworks across the country and mapping more New Deal art sites than anyone has previously attempted. We have also drawn attention to undocumented and endangered New Deal art. That previous work made clear that much more needed to be done.

In 2023, we launched a new initiative, “Advocating for New Deal Art,” to consider what more can be done to study, preserve, and teach New Deal visual art and its history. The initiative is, in addition, aimed at expanding public interest in New Deal art and promoting investment in public funding for the arts today.

The initiative’s priorities are as follows:

  1. Partner with concerned people and organizations to promote New Deal art, recognize its complex legacy and support its preservation;
  2. Form a network of New Deal art scholars and specialists, and encourage a sense of a shared community concerned with the New Deal art legacy;
  3. Host in-person and virtual events featuring members of this networked community;
  4. Create open-access educational content on New Deal art for the Living New Deal website and other outlets to the public;
  5. Connect New Deal art and legacy institutions to federally-funded art projects and institutions that continue to impact contemporary art practice today

To carry out this initiative, we will work closely with scholars, curators, collectors, artists, administrators, and other professional allies. The initiative is being led by Dr. Mary Okin, Assistant Director of the Living New Deal.

New Deal Art Initiative Advisory Board

LND is proud to welcome four leading scholars of American art to the Advocating for New Deal Art initiative board. Board members serve a three-year term and work with Assistant Director Mary Okin on cultivating understanding and appreciation of New Deal art through community building activities, development of open-access educational resources and programming intended to engage fellow scholars, allied professionals, students, and lifelong learners.

Erika Doss

Erika Doss (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is a Distinguished Professor in the Edith O Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her wide-ranging interests in modern and contemporary American art are reflected in the breadth of her publications, including Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism (1991, which received the Charles C. Eldredge Prize), Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (1995), Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image (1999), Looking at Life Magazine (editor, 2001), The Emotional Life of Contemporary Public Memorials: Towards a Theory of Temporary Memorials (2008), Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America (2010), Monumental Troubles: Rethinking What Monuments Mean Today (editor, 2018), and Spiritual Moderns: Twentieth-Century American Artists and Religion (2023). The recipient of several Fulbright awards, Doss has held fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

In addition to serving on LND’s ANDA board, Erika chairs the 2024 Issues of Privatization and Preservation working group.

Erika Doss

Jackie Francis

Jacqueline Francis is the author of Making Race: Modernism and “Racial Art” in America (2012) and co-editor of Is Now the Time for Joyous Rage? (2023) and Romare Bearden: American Modernist (2011). She is Dean of the Humanities and Sciences Division at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Her curatorial projects include Adia Millett: You Will Be Remembered (Galerie du Monde—Hong Kong; 2022), Fight and Flight: Crafting a Bay Area Life (Museum of Craft & Design—San Francisco; 2023), and Sargent Claude Johnson (Huntington Art Museum—San Marino, California; 2024). A member of the 3.9 Art Collective of San Francisco, she also is a fiction writer who was awarded an Individual Artist commission grant (2017) by the San Francisco Arts Commission. In 2023 she was named to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 100—recognition of her cultural activism in the Bay Area.

In addition to serving on LND’s ANDA board, Jackie chairs the 2024 Archive of Archives working group.

Jackie Francis

John Ott

Professor of Art History at James Madison University, John Ott is the author of Manufacturing the Modern Patron in Victorian California (Ashgate, 2014; Routledge, 2016) and (with Tim Cresswell) Muybridge and Mobility (California, 2022). His current book projects are Mixed Media: The Visual Cultures of Racial Integration, 1931–1954 (currently under review), which includes an analysis of depictions of racially mixed communities in Treasury Section commissions; and Return to Sender: Race, New Deal Murals, and Iconoclasm, 1934 – present.

In addition to serving on LND’s ANDA board, John chairs the 2024 New Deal Art and Race working group.

John Ott

Jody Patterson

Jody Patterson is the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Chair of History of Art at The Ohio State University. Her research is focused on the relations between art and politics in mid-century American art. She has been the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Terra Foundation, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts. Her work has appeared in Art History, American Art, Oxford Art Journal, and Tate Papers. She is the author of Modernism for the Masses: Painters, Politics, and Public Murals in New Deal New York (Yale University Press, 2020), and is currently completing her second book What About Modern Art and Democracy? American Art and the Legacies of the New Deal in the 1940s.

In addition to serving on LND’s ANDA board, Jody chairs the 2024 Legacies of the New Deal in the 1940s working group.

Jody Patterson

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