Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, February 10, 2013

LaSalle's Quest for the Mississippi

Remember that post a few weeks ago about lying on the floor of the Rayville Post Office, trying to take a photograph of the mural?  Well, here it is, without looking at it through the crack in the door or the glass.
Image used with permission of the United States Postal Service

Elsie Driggs painted LaSalle's Quest for the Mississippi and it was installed in the Rayville, Louisiana post office in 1939 as part of the New Deal projects.  Commissioned by the U. S. Treasury, Driggs' work
...depicts the story of LaSalle's travels just before he discovered the mouth of the Mississippi. (Kimmerle, 2008, p. 37)
The 1936 watercolor on paper "study" was the preliminary sketch of the mural, and has recently been acquired by the Mobile Museum of Art.  Driggs was a Precisionist, but adjusted her style for the mural (Fine Lines: Mobile Museum of Art Members Quarterly, 2009).  Driggs felt she needed to make her style more "suitable" for public art, and thus chose a "more narrative composition" (p. 9) for her painting.

There was no one at the front window when I entered the post office, but in a short while, a postal worker came out and asked if she could help me.  I explained the Living New Deal Project and that I was photographing the mural for the project.  She replied, "I don't know who put that there."  I explained it was part of the New Deal Projects by Roosevelt's administration during the Great Depression, and that it had been commissioned by the Treasury Department of the Federal government.  She asked, "Is this the only one?"  Oh, my no.  They are in post offices all over the United States, as well as in some other Federal Buildings.  I confess to being a little astonished that she did not know that.  She appeared to be in her 40s or even 50s, so I would think she would have heard of the New Deal and its work programs, but frankly, she would not be the first student to go through our school systems and not be knowledgable of the history of the nation.

Just in case you missed the first post, here is the post office in which Driggs' mural is housed.  The post office was built in 1937.


Gigi said...

Surprised she had no idea!

This is such a fun project!

Suzassippi said...

It is indeed! You would actually have no idea how many of them there are until you start looking for them.