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Arizona's art history is emblematic of the story of the modern West, and few periods in that history were more significant than the era of the New Deal. From Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams to painters and muralists including Native American Gerald Nailor, the artists working in Arizona under New Deal programs were a notable group whose art served a distinctly public purpose. Their photography, paintings, and sculptures remain significant exemplars of federal art patronage and offer telling lessons positioned at the intersection of community history and culture.
Art is a powerful instrument of historical record and cultural construction, and many of the issues captured by the Farm Security Administration photographers remain significant issues today: migratory labor, the economic volatility of the mining industry, tourism, and water usage. Art tells important stories, too, including the work of Japanese American photographer Toyo Miyatake in Arizona's internment camps, murals by Native American artist Gerald Nailor for the Navajo Nation Council Chamber in Window Rock, and African American themes at Fort Huachuca. Illustrated with 100 black-andwhite photographs and covering a wide range of both media and themes, this fascinating and accessible volume reclaims a richly textured story of Arizona history with potent lessons for today.