Margot Smith is a retired social scientist currently residing in Berkeley, California, where she made award-winning independent videos on political and social justice issues. Recently, she contacted the Living New Deal to lend some of her work to our project.
Take a minute and a half to watch cleaned-up promotional footage from The Works Progress Administration (WPA). It provides a fascinating glimpse into the practical and philosophical aims of the WPA, as it put millions of Americans back to work. (Who knew that art was important to a healthy citizenry?!) Spend some time considering the importance that this film places upon multiculturalism, in America’s past and present, as a form of social justice. Or set aside more time and explore the diversity of aesthetic and historical visions that comprised San Francisco’s myriad murals, produced with funds provided by the federal government during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency. Finally, consider the life and work of San Francisco artist and muralist Bernard Zakheim, as narrated by his family. Zakheim’s New Deal murals are still around, gracing the walls of Coit Tower, the San Francisco Jewish Community Center, and UC San Francisco’s Tolman Hall. If you like what you see in these videos, go check them out in person!
Work Pays America (5 Min)
WPA Murals in SF (15 Min)
Bernard Zakheim’s Living Art (28 Min)