Watch Again

Supporting the Arts through the WPA

Watch More
back to video

Supporting the Arts through the WPA

Short | 01:32

One of the greatest experiments in public art gave voice and vision to American artists, authors and musicians.

More About This show

In the grip of the Great Depression, WPA writers searched for America and discovered the Soul of a People. This show explores one of the most controversial public assistance programs of its time and shows nothing less than the creation of America's first ever self-portrait.


  • Richard Wright
  • John Cheever
  • Vardis Fisher
  • Jim Thompson
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Anzia Yezierska
  • Richard Wright

    Richard Wright

    Read Full Bio
    Born in Mississippi, Richard Wright migrated to Chicago as a young man, hoping for work and a better life. After he lost his job with the postal service, Wright joined the Writers' Project. He created the Southside Writers' Group and found his voice as an emerging author. During his time on the Project, he contributed to the Chicago and New York Guides, and later provided the text for 12 Million Black Voices, a seminal photographic chronicle of African American life. While on the Project, he also wrote his most famous work, Native Son, which captured the public's attention and was a Book-of-the-Month club selection. In 1940s America, Wrights' stories and essays on race relations, as well his association with the Communist Party, made him a controversial figure. He became a permanent expatriate after moving to Paris, France in 1946, where he continued to write until his death in 1960. His other famous works include Black Boy and The Outsider, along with several thousand haikus.
Return to Video Page