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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
February 16, 2004
Volume 39, Number 12

WPA art conserved, reinstalled on Tingley hospital first floor

Painted by Sheldon Parsons, 1933-1937. Oil on Plywood.

New Mexico’s best artists involved in program

By Chris Fenton

In the autumn of 1937, a historic ceremony was held to open the doors of New Mexico’s new children’s hospital. It was named after Carrie Tingley, wife of then Governor Clyde Tingley, who felt a hospital was needed in New Mexico for children suffering from polio. Included in this new facility were many works of art commissioned through the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) Federal Art Project.

The hospital now has 18 of these works on permanent display throughout the first floor of the UNM building.

During the Depression era, the WPA recognized the plight of artists and commissioned paintings and sculpture for newly constructed federal buildings, post offices, hospitals and courthouses. In addition to providing work for artists, these New Deal initiatives produced the first major body of public American art -- hundreds of thousands of works.

The works are now part of the General Services Administration’s Fine Arts Collection. This collection is one of the nation’s largest and most diverse federal art collections, consisting of more than 16,000 installed works on permanent loan to organizations throughout the United States.

Many of New Mexico’s best-known artists were involved in the New Deal program. UNM Carrie Tingley Hospital is proud to have some of these works of art from the original facility in Hot Springs, N.M. Over the years, individual pieces have been restored through fundraising efforts of the National New Deal Preservation Association.

The association was also responsible for raising the funds, in 1992, to make a bronze casting of the Oliver LaGrone sculpture, Mercy, 57 years after it was created. But, it was not until this past year that Carrie Tingley was able to appraise, conserve, cover and reinstall the whole collection.

Funding for this project was made possible through a generous bequest of the estate of Naomi Ashley.

For more information on the UNM Health Sciences Center Art Program, call 272-9700.