Bolivar TN Post Office
The red-brick Colonial Revival style post office was erected with WPA labor. (Van West, 2001). It contains a mural by Carl Nyquist, “Picking Cotton.” Interestingly, Van West takes an almost opposite view of the accuracy of the mural from that Of Howard Hull, Tennessee Post Office Murals, 1996. (See entry for mural for Hull’s perspective on the mural).
Van West said of the mural: “While Nyquist’s portrayal is plausible, it was misleading in terms of its depiction of race and gender roles” (p. 61). Van West identified the lack of head covering (and for that matter, protection from the sun!) as unrealistic for the young girl–“far from the reality of child labor in the cotton fields.” She is shown without a sack, which would indicate she is not picking cotton. He also criticized the distractedness of the woman–“of little help…when the opposite was true: tenant women worked as hard in the fields as their husbands, brothers, or sons.” Van West pointed out that over 70% of the tenant farmers in Hardeman County were black, and that Treasury Section officials asked Nyquist to confirm there were white tenants in Hardeman before he received approval for his design.
Van West, C. (2001). Tennessee's New Deal Landscape: A Guidebook. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. Cornerstone, Bolivar Post Office.
Project originally submitted by Susan Allen on October 25, 2013.
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