Face in artwork shows Great Depression


    By Michael Laverty

    The human struggle during the Great Depression is one of many stories in the Maynard Dixon collection reaching out to a new set of

    students with similar hardships.

    “The ”Forgotten Man” gives you such a real scenario,” said Jennifer Barnes, 19, a sophomore from Orange County, Calif., majoring in therapeutic recreation. “I see a story of the pains and privations of depression, something all of us, at one point or another, can relate to.”

    The largest collection of Maynard Dixon paintings in the world is located in the BYU Museum of Art, and the Forgotten Man painting has special meaning to students.

    “This picture is powerful to me because you can imagine everyone in the background has somewhere to go and he doesn”t,” said Kathy Broughton, 19, a sophomore from Camarillo, Calif., majoring in exercise science. “I feel for him. Everyone seems to be rushing off to their responsibilities, but he remains still with no purpose.”

    The Forgotten Man painting by Maynard Dixon in 1934 was acquired by the MOA in 1937 and has since caused students to think of more than just a simple painting of a man on a sidewalk.

    Forgotten Man was painted because Dixon wanted to capture the impact on ordinary people of great economic depression, May said.

    “Dixon found the human suffering to be so shocking that he divulged his landscape painting for a while and focused on people and their unfortunate struggles,” she said. “This painting, more than any other, portrays the struggle for existence during the depression era, the human isolation and alienation.”

    May said most paintings in the museum do in fact have stories about them.

    “In addition to the formal qualities of art work each have equally important human stories behind them,” May said. “Knowing these stories will help students appreciate the art at a higher level.”

    In total the museum has 85 paintings by Maynard Dixon, all of which were donated by Harold R. Clark. The most famous of the all is the Forgotten Man, said May.

    Forgotten Man reflects struggle for existence during the depression era of the 1920”s and 1930”s.

    “This painting depicts the life of many people in general,” said Alex Moises, 28, a senior from Argentina majoring in international studies. “Many in this world are forgotten.”

    Students also are reminded of Christ when they look at the painting.

    “It makes me think of the savior,” Moises said. “He often goes unnoticed, like the man in the painting. What”s important to remember is that there is always someone who notices us, and that someone is the Savior.

    The museum encourages students to view the Forgotten Man and find what it means in their own lives.

    “The artwork is endlessly interesting,” May said.

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