The Works Progress Administration (WPA) saw all artists as workers, with skills as valuable as any other profession. For visual artists, being asked to make art for America at a liveable wage -- without having to market it -- was a very unusual circumstance. Whether documenting the times through photography, painting public murals, or designing civic posters, the visual artists of the WPA contributed iconic imagery that confronted the status quo and created hope for a better future.
Artists' empowerment during the 1930s stretched well beyond the WPA. With the rise of the social realist movement, for the first time on a mass scale art centered on the challenging themes like poverty, workers' rights, and racism. A painting or a poster may not stop a lynching or a slaughter, but it can move us instantly to reframe our perspective -- worth more than a thousand words of counter argument. As COSACOSA's tagline says, art can "Make it Better.™" An art of the people, by the people, and for the people creates social justice. Art works to move us forward.