19 March 2013

Final copy of my abstract for SSML paper.

“John Steuart Curry (b. 1897) was a Kansas born painter who was associated with the Midwestern Regionalist school of painting that was prominent in the 1930s. Curry studied art in Kansas City, Chicago, and Paris. He worked for a time as an illustrator, sold his paintings commercially, and received commissions from the federal government and the state of Kansas for murals. In 1936, Curry came to the University of Wisconsin to serve as the artist in residence for the College of Agriculture. The Dean of the College of Agriculture Chris L. Christensen wanted his students and the residents of Wisconsin to have access to have access to a nationally renowned artist, because he thought that a vibrant rural culture was essential to the health of the state. When Curry came to Wisconsin, American agriculture was in the midst of a nadir that had lasted since the end of World War Two. It was a time, too, when art was seen to have an important social role to play in America, as evidenced by New Deal arts programs.

This paper will situate Curry within the tradition of Midwestern pastoralism. It will explore how Curry’s paintings and his ideas reflect the Midwestern pastoralism as defined by William Barillas. I will consider Curry’s time as artist in residence at the University of Wisconsin’s College of Agriculture. The College of Agriculture is significant it the tradition of Midwestern pastoralism, and Curry’s position as artist in residence within the College of Agriculture’s own traditions will be considered. I will consider the history of the University of Wisconsin, the College of Agriculture, American art, American agriculture, and rural culture.”


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