Perhaps one of the most inspiring aspects of the New Deal for lovers of the arts was the Federal Art Project. The Federal Art Project was created as a relief measure and allowed more than 10,000 artists and artisans to be commissioned to express themselves with their art via photography, sculptures, paintings, and many other magnificent forms of art. Their art helped inspire all of the people so greatly affected by the Great Depression. One of the many incredibly inspiring artists involved with the Federal Art Project was Berenice Abbott, who used a large format camera in order to capture the essence of New York City.
Berenice Abbott started her journey of photographing New York City in early 1929 and continued with pursuing its photographic potential for six years independently because she was unable to get financial support from any organizations. However, in 1935 Abbott was hired by the Federal Art Program and was able to fully pursue and delve into her “Changing New York” project. By the time she resigned in 1939, she had produced 305 prints that are in the Museum of the City of New York. Her work was intended to show people that their environment is the result of the collective behavior of the environment’s inhabitants. Abbott was also a passionate supporter of the Straight Photography Movement. The Straight Photography Movement stressed the importance of photographs maintaining their original form and remaining unmanipulated in the process of their development and their subject matter. Berenice Abbott’s photographs inspired many people, including fellow artists, and continue to spark passion in those who see her works.
Berenice Abbot is a great example of an empowered photographer who has used her passion for format photography to bring relief and hope to the people who were devastated by the Great Depression. The Federal Art Project of the New Deal allowed for female artists such as Berenice Abbot and Dorothea Lange to come to the forefront of the arts and pave the way for other female artists.
Written by Julia Rauschuber