Image Courtesy of Willie Allen. Used with the permission of the United States Postal ServiceŽ. All rights reserved.
Artist: Jospeh P. Vorst (1897-1947)
Dimensions:13 ft. x 4 ft.
Medium:oil on canvas
Location: Paris Post Office located at 206 North Elm Street, Paris, Arkansas
About the Mural: Joseph Vorst was commissioned for $740 to create a mural for Paris, Arkansas based on his winning entry in the 1939 48 States Competition. The competition selected 48 winning artists to compose a mural for a each of the 48 continental states. Vorst's initial composition for Rural Arkansas was rejected due to the town's contention that it showed their community as both stereotyped and backward. Vorst thus redesigned his composition into the image that extolled the modern industries of Paris.
The mural at the time of installation. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The mural depicts the various industries of Paris. On the left is an image of a prize bull and cattle raising, behind this scene lies a coal mine, and in the center is a modern cotton gin. In the background on the right, workers are picking cotton and in the foreground they are bringing their bags to be weighted.
About the Artist:Joseph Vorst was born in Essen, Germany in 1897. His father was a cabinet maker and designer. He studied at the Folkwang Academy and at the National Academy of Berlin under Max Slevogt and Max Liebermann. In order to escape from artistic and personal restrictions of freedom, Vorst came to America in 1930. He settled in St. Louis, Missouri and became both friend and student of Thomas Hart Benton. Benton remarked that the first time he met Vorst it was like meeting himself. The two eventually shared a studio. Vorst was the Director of Art at Jefferson College in St. Louis and also taught at the Adult Educational Center of Washington University. He also created murals for post offices in Bethany and Vandalia Missouri.
About the Location:Paris, the current seat of Logan County, incorporated on February 18, 1879. The area was settled around 1820 and named for Paris, France in 1874. Coal mining was the community's principal industry by 1917, although the industry was abandoned in 1945. Cotton has been a consistent agricultural product of the area.