Upcoming Teacher Workshop: The Twenties

What comes to mind when you think of America in the twenties?

My first thoughts: jazz music, flappers, The Great Gatsby, the end of WWI, Prohibition, the Harlem Renaissance, Al Capone, and new rights for women. The country was quickly urbanizing and industrializing,  and technology was advancing. The twenties in the U.S. were “roaring” indeed – characterized  by dynamic change and modernization. Visual artists along with authors, poets, and playwrights responded to all this change through their works. The DMA’s upcoming full-day teacher workshop on March 31 will explore the conceptual and thematic threads that connect 1920s visual art, literature, and a rapidly morphing America.

For a little teaser of The Twenties workshop, read “The Red Wheelbarrow”  by William Carlos Williams. Then, view the following four artworks from Youth and Beauty: Art of the American TwentiesHow are ideas presented in the poem resonating with one or more of the artworks? Which artwork do you think best associates with the poem?

The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

We would love for you to leave a comment with your thoughts and associations!

Andrea Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

Artworks shown:

  • Elsie Driggs, Queensborough Bridge, 1927, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey, Museum Purchase, Lang Acquisition Fund
  • Lewis Wickes Hine, Power House Mechanic, 1920-1921, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Walter and Naomi Rosenblum
  • Gerald Murphy, Razor, 1924, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the artist
  • Joseph Stella, The Amazon, 1925-1926, The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchase with exchange funds from the Edward Joseph Gallagher II Memorial Collection

3 Responses to “Upcoming Teacher Workshop: The Twenties”


  1. 1 James Severin April 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Lewis Wickes Hines’ “Powerhouse Mechanic” is such a cognent work depicting the intense labor needed for the industrial growth and modernization of a nation. Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” can be interpreted the same way with the wheelbarrow (construction), the rainwater (sweat), beside the chickens (farmland being lost to city growth), and the RED, WHITE, and Rainwater (BLUE) representing America.

    • 2 Andrea Severin April 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks for that great association! It hadn’t occurred to me to connect the colors described in Williams’ work with the colors in the American flag. Very cool connection!


  1. 1 Educator Resources: Teaching the Twenties « Dallas Museum of Art Educator Blog Trackback on April 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm
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