American resilience and the Great Depression

Millard Sheets shows community and resilience during the Great Depression.

Millard Sheets, Tenement Flats, oil on canvas, 102.1 x 127.6 cm (Smithsonian American Art Museum). A conversation with Dr. Virginia Mecklenburg, Chief Curator, Smithsonian American Art Museum and Dr. Steven Zucker

Key points

  • Millard Sheets was selected to paint for the Public Works Art Project – an effort to employ artists during the Great Depression.
  • Sheets painted a tenement complex in Bunker Hill, once a wealthy neighborhood in Los Angeles.
  • The artist takes joy in depicting the sociable residents of the tenement as they go about their daily lives.
  • Tenement Flats was selected by President and Mrs. Roosevelt to hang in the White House.

Go deeper

This painting at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Selected paintings from the 1934 Corcoran exhibition

Explore the diverse history of the United States through its art. Seeing America is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Alice L. Walton Foundation.