Friday, April 29, 2011
The 1933 federal arts endowment and the black tail prairie dog of the great plains
As I view this painting I created years ago, it reminds me to never regret and to learn from my mistakes. With the fear mongering presented by the news about the failing economy, and the prairie dogs emerging from their underground winter homes scattered around base, triggered a random correlation within my mind. This story shows how closely things are related, how I should learn from my mistakes, and how I should keep creating no matter what.
"The 1933 federal arts endowment and the black tail prairie dog of the great plains." By Roahun
How cruel of me to fill this prairie dogs hole. I stood before her, with her beady lil black eyes set far apart on the head. I bet she could spot me from clear across the field. Ive been curious about these small animals for some time, so I did what every self respecting young scholar does, hit up wikipedia! First article that came up, "the decline of the prairie dog, and its ecosystem." Apparently the prairie dogs are an important part of the ecosystem of the great plains, BTW the area that grows the majority our of food! Reading even deeper, it states that around the time of the great depression the dust bowl occurred as well. The dust bowl is directly related to the destruction of the prairie ecosystem from over farming. The prairie dog being a very important contributer to this ecosystem was forcefully killed because of its large numbers, and destructive behavior. The prairie dog helped replenish the soil with water and nutrients. With out the dogs, the the soil would be harshly effected especially with the intense agriculture taking place.
The banking system is tied directly into this problem as well.
With the advent of new consumerism, and the extension of the first ever lines of credit, people were able to buy cars on credit, houses on loans, and even radios in installments. New banks opened to take advantage of this credit sweep, and the federal reserve was busy keeping bank reserve full. But wages were still meager compared to the debt accumulating. The fed was reaching its maximum lending limit as well.
Governmental policy had not changed very much to accommodate these new changes, and this would be part of weak link in the chain of events that caused the recession, eventually turning into the depression.
As the Dust Bowl started its effect, small rural banks failed due to the farmers defaulting on loans. Speculators pulled money from banks in fear of loosing to a bank failure. The federal reserve reached its lending limit to early, so bank reserves couldn't be replenished. Large banks closed lending because of the chaos in the Fed and small banks. The prices of food comodities started to rise due to a decrese in supply. house holds couldn't afford to pay for food and their new lifestyle, because credit was either withdrawn or the interest tripled. With a decline in spending, business slowed and jobs were lost due to reduction in consumption. The government had no policies in place to deal with the failing banks and businesses, so no bail outs followed. Banks failed, companies failed, jobs lost, lively hoods lost, food was short, prices were high, and the government seemed to do nothing. So many systems failing at once crippled our society. This failure not only showed the interconnectedness of the economy, but also proved as a lesson in power and responsibility. Everyone had to hold fast in poverty until the government and the fed could revamp policy (sound familiar?). And somehow the little prairie dog played a big part in this whole process. And this very process sparked the new deal for the arts and kept a lot of us out of poverty ourselves!
As stated on the NARA website: " The New Deal arts projects provided work for jobless artists, but they also had a larger mission: to promote American art and culture and to give more Americans access to what President Franklin Roosevelt described as "an abundant life." The projects saved thousands of artists from poverty and despair and enabled Americans all across the country to see an original painting for the first time, attend their first professional live theater, or take their first music or drawing class. " National Archives and Records Administration 2011
Before this, the arts were reserved for those who had money. It was a status symbol to enjoy the arts, to see a real painting in a public museum. Today art can be enjoyed by anyone anywhere. So as you sit there painting away, remember how easy it is to loose. As an artist I must understand the history of how things became, to understand what they will become.