The historic New Deal post office in Auburn, Nebraska contains a Treasury Section of Fine Arts mural entitled “Threshing” painted by Ethel Magafan in 1938. She also painted a mural for the Wynne, Arkansas and Madill, OK post offices.
“Ethel Magafan, the artist who created this mural, studied at Colorado Springs Fine Art Center at the same time as Nebraska muralist Edward Chavez. Her sister Jenne also painted a Nebraska mural for the town of Albion. Ethel was in her early twenties when she painted this mural. Of the program’s 850 commissions for murals, only approximately one-sixth were awarded to women and minority artists.
Ethel’s mural “Threshing” was readily received by the appreciative Auburn community, unlike many murals by other artists which were openly criticized. In fact, she travelled to Nebraska to do research before painting the mural.
Its theme of depicting local agriculture was very popular. It was said, “A better subject could not have been chosen, for the old threshing machine is rapidly going out of use, and inside of another generation it will be a thing of the past and will stand as a memory of the by-gone days.” This oil on canvas mural was pasted to the wall of the post office.
Ms. Magafan went on to do post office murals in Oklahoma and Arkansas and for the U.S. Senate Chamber and the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C. The Section was a big fan of Ms. Magafan’s.”
We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.SUBMIT MORE INFORMATION OR PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THIS SITE