"Life in the Mississippi Cotton Belt"
The post office contains a Treasury Section of Fine Arts mural “Life in the Mississippi Cotton Belt,” painted by Auriel Bessemer in 1939 and installed in the Hazlehurst post office that same year. Bessemer was the son of Hungarian immigrants (Boszormenyi Family Tree). His accomplishments included work with the Gallery of Modern Masters in Washington and the American Museum of Natural History in New York (Enzweiler, 1992).
Bessemer’s painting represented the Copiah County diversified economy of an earlier time: cotton industry and manufacturing (Nelson-Easley, 2007), possibly the nearby Wesson Mills. Like many of the murals under the program, it could be seen as a somewhat romanticized depiction of life in the south as painted by those not from the area. For example, Bessemer’s mural shows one of the laborers in the cotton field sitting in the field, apparently napping, with the overseer (or possibly the plantation owner, because he is riding his white steed) looking on.
Enzweiler, S. M. (1992). National Register of Historic Places nomination form. Retrieved from Mississippi Department of Archives & History Historic Resources Inventory database. Family Tree Boszormenyi BESSEMER. Retrieved from Koreshan.mweb.org/gene/uged/html/fam093.html. Nelson-Easley, L. M. (2007). Images of America: Copiah County. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. "Auriel Bessemer: The Murals and the Artist." (2006). Arlington Historical Society Newsletter, 50(3). Toby McIntosh, Director, Bureau of National Affairs' "Daily Report for Executives." personal communication, August 15, 2013.
Project originally submitted by Susan Allen on March 25, 2013.
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