VCU Libraries Gallery

Director of the Virginia Federal Art Project

Art Club of Richmond drawing by Adele Clark

Adèle Clark at her desk at the Federal Art Project, Christmas 1941

The Depression slowed the demand for art classes and Clark found employment with two Work Progress Administration (WPA) agencies. From 1933 until the fall of 1935, she worked as a field supervisor for the National Reemployment Service. Along with the state reemployment director and other field staff, she assisted in the organization of local reemployment offices throughout Virginia.

In 1936, Clark became the director of Virginia Federal Art Project which was a relief program to provide employment opportunities for artists in Virginia. Artists employed by the WPA produced hundreds of paintings that were distributed to local and state institutions for display throughout the state. The agency also helped to establish art galleries in Big Stone Gap, Fairfax, and Lynchburg.

“I think it would be difficult to exaggerate the amount of good that came out of the government’s work during those depression days, especially in the field of culture and art,” Clark remarked in an interview conducted for the Archives of American Art’s New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project, Smithsonian Institution, November 16, 1963. “On the art project we discovered artists that we wouldn’t have known about."

Clark’s six year run as head of the Virginia Art Project ended with the agency’s demise in December 1942.