"If they're good murals done by good men, they'll stay on the wall." 

- Carl William Peters [1]


Though many people do not have the name Carl William Peters in their mental catalogue of great American painters, this humble Rochester-born artist had a prolific output in the 20th century. His diverse talents spanned from simple sketches and watercolors, to camouflage painting on the front line of World War I, to huge murals for public schools during the New Deal Era, to impressionist landscape painting. Though he never saught fame, the above quote from Peters expresses his belief that good art done by good people will have a lasting impression on the community around it, and that is exactly what happened with his murals.

Carl William Peters in his studio, surrounded by landscape paintings. 

Rochester, New York, has had a long-standing artistic tradition since its 18th century roots. Starting with American landscape painters flocking to the Genesee River Valley to paint exquisite nature scenes focusing on the River's three falls, and nearby Lake Ontario, Rochester quickly became a city known for its focus on the arts. During America's New Deal Era, the Works Progress Administration's Federal Arts Project (WPA/FAP), helped establish lasting marks of artistic culture on the city as several local artists were employed to paint murals, decorative hangings, and posters for public buildings such as schools. 

Starting with a biography of Carl W. Peters, this digital exhibition will take the reader on a journey through 20th century Rochester. Through learning about Peter's life and the cultural climate that he grew up in, we will explore everything from Rochester's art history, to the national artistic impact of the WPA, to the effect that these elements have had on Rochester's modern artistic scene. I hope that by using Carl Peters as a means to explore these different subjects, the reader will be able to gain a deeper understanding of how many individuals were similarly impacted by the organizations and institutions I will focus on in this project. 


Follow the link below to begin learning about Carl Peters, the Rochester art scene, and the Works Progress Administration's Federal Arts Project:

The Life of Carl William Peters