Julius Moessel worked under the Federal Art Project, and the WPA Federal Project Number One. He created an astonishing eighteen murals. The 7′ x 9′ panels were created for the Chicago Field Museum’s “Plants of the World Exhibit”, specifically for the collection titled “The Story of Food Plants.”
This project took two and a half years to complete (1938-1940), and while Moessel painted all eighteen by himself, he worked under the supervision of the Field Museum’s curator of botany. The murals were created as a way of visually showing people [historic] cultivation around the world- demonstrating farming and agriculture in various countries such as West Asia, Africa, Mexico, and many more. Examples include: Planting Potatoes, Peru; Pressing Olives, North Africa; Threshing Grain, Europe; Overland Caravan, Iran; Urban Produce Market; Gathering Lily Pods, Oregon; Planting Taro, New guinea; and Sugar Harvest, Brazil. The original intention of “the murals were envisioned as an ‘illustrative adjunct’”- in other words visual aides to the items on display in the exhibition.
These murals capture what modern forms of film and technology can’t, which is the history of cultivation. These series of murals over seventy years old are still on display today at the Field Museum.
Gray, Mary L. "The Story of Food Plants." The Story of Food Plants. University of Chicago Press, n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.
Originally posted in the New Deal Art Registry: http://www.newdealartregistry.org/
Project originally submitted by Katarina Otero on May 13, 2015.
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