As one of the projects in the New Deal during the Great Depression in the United States, the Public Works of Art Project, begun in 1933, was developed to bring artist workers back into the job market and assure the American public that better financial times were on the way. Among the most high-profile works were United States Post Office murals produced between 1934 and 1943.
In September of 2020, a new mural has found a home at the Commerce Post Office, located at 1300 Park Street in Commerce, TX.
Made of wood, the work depicts a USA Forever stamp emblazoned with the image of a lion, which is the mascot of Texas A&M University-Commerce. The color palette is limited to those hues in official use by the USPS. According to artist and senior A&M-Commerce honors student Emma Anderson, the piece is hand-cut to scale.
"I initially set out to add more art to the Commerce community, because college towns are usually very colorful. I felt that since [the nearby town of] Greenville had been adding murals that attract students to their downtown area, it was time for new paint in Commerce also."
Anderson says the artwork is the culmination of her honors thesis project, and that it was over one year in the making.
"My advisor and I asked around to scout a location for my art, and the Post Office indicated they wanted something on their west-facing front wall. There were several designs, and we were glad to learn that this one was approved."
Anderson did recieve some financial assistance in bringing her art to fruition.
"I received grant funding from the university for supplies and the post office agreed to pay to hang the work and to add a plaque."
Anderson, who is scheduled to graduate in December of this year, recognized advisors who had a hand in the work, including Dr. Hunter Hayes, Dr. Raymond Green, and Brian Weaver, the artist behind sculptures that are currently on display on the TAMUC campus and on Lee Street in downtown Greenville.
The artist says she's proud to have her work associated with the local post office.
"The people who work for the USPS, especially in Commerce, are very kind and hardworking and really want the best for the people they distribute to. They secured the funding from theUSPS to hang my art, and I understand that approval had to come from a high-ranking official in the organization. The process for approval took more than a year."
Anderson's installation is already turning heads in Commerce.
"Even as we were hanging it people came by and said, 'I love murals and the post office!' And I really hope my art can draw interest from community members nearby. Perhaps they'll head in and buy some stamps. Afer all, the USPS has been the backpone of the United States for a very long time; if we lose them, we face collapse. These are true Patriots, working for us. I personally have a lot of love and support for them and what they do."
Anderson says she plans to submit the work to the USPS for consideration as a legitimate Forever Stamp design option.