WPA to Street Art: Visual Art as a Voice

Man-made marks have been a part of human culture since prehistoric ages. Whether used to convey beauty, tell a story or simply relay information, mark-making is part of who we are as a species.

I seek to investigate the evolution of visual art as a platform for conveying a individual, governmental, or national voice in the United States. Starting at the beginning of Franklin Roosevelt's presidency, fine art was widely considered a luxury reserved the elite in the midst of the Great Depression.

Art was losing its character, aspiring to emulate the European masterpieces, alienating the viewer and the artist from works that had little personal meaning, whether in an individual or national sense.


“It is part of who we are. As soon as humans figured out how to make marks on things, we did it. Graffiti—in its original definition as a scratched or written public marking—is considered to be the first example of human art.”

- Roger Gastman


Gastman, Roger, and Caleb Neelon. A History of American Graffiti. N.p.: HarperCollins, n.d.