Southern Illinois University Museum Collection of Carvings
Jobs were few and far between in Southern Illinois during the Great Depression even for skilled coal miners like Fred E. Myers of West Frankfort. But Myers' talents as a woodcarver, which he developed after losing his coal mining job, gave him a chance to earn a living thanks to the federal government's Works Progress Administration (WPA) program. The WPA put artists on the government payroll in the late 1930s. At the same time, officials at what was then called Southern Illinois Normal University were seeking exhibits for the University Museum.
Myers' gift for woodcarving was identified by art historian George Mavigliano and photographer Richard Lawson who collaborated on a book about Myers published by the SIU Press. Today the University Museum houses 28 pieces of Myers' exquisitely carved work. In this segment, Mavigliano and WSIU's Jak Tichenor tour the Myers collection at the museum's archives. Click to watch now.