Project Description

Murals have long been celebrated as an effective way to build public morale. During the Great Depression, the federal government hired artists to embellish existing public buildings to present an image of American dignity. Long was commissioned to do work in several courthouses, post offices, and federal buildings in Kentucky. This study is for a mural in the Gene Snyder Federal Building (formerly Gene Snyder U.S. Post Office, Court House, and Customs House). In this mural, Long depicted hardworking Kentuckians. On the left he depicted the process of tobacco cultivation, one of Kentucky’s main cash crops. Kentucky was the nation’s largest grower of tobacco between 1900 and 1938, and Long depicted the tobacco cultivation process, even including the process of curing in the smoking barn behind the agricultural workers. On the right, Long depicted coal miners. He accurately gave viewers the process of coal production from mining in darkness, to the mule-powered transportation of raw coal, to the compacting and cleaning of coal at a factory in the background. Tobacco and coal have long been central to Kentucky’s economy, and this mural serves as a reminder and inspiration to many other blue collar workers in Kentucky. With this depiction of dignified labor, Depression era workers gained dignity in the public eye.

Object Details

Frank Long (American, 1906-1999)
17 ⅛” x 20”
Tempera on board
Gift of the artist