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Decorative Straw-Inlay Cross

Hispanic crafts
This straw-inlay cross depicts 12 scenes from the life of Christ. It was made by Eliseo Rodriguez, who first learned his craft when he worked for the Federal Art Project (FAP) in New Mexico in the 1930s. Part of the federal Works Project Administration, FAP was the first major attempt at government patronage of the visual arts in the United States. Its national director, Holger Cahill, saw the potential for cultural development in what was essentially a work-relief program for artists. "The organization of the project," declared Cahill in 1936, "has proceeded on the principle that it is not the solitary genius but a sound general movement which maintains art as a vital, functioning part of any cultural scheme. Art is not a matter of rare, occasional masterpieces."

Basic wage of FAP artists, $23.50 per week
Number of artists employed by FAP at its peak in 1936, more than 5,000
Total federal investment, about $35 million
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