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Peggy Strong

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(1913-1956)

Peggy Strong was an American painter and muralist. A Tacoma native she produced figurative and stylized realist portraits, as well as abstract, expressionist mural pieces throughout her career. Strong became disabled in her early 20s due to a car accident, and now can be seen as a modern pioneer of women artists with disabilities. Strong was selected as one of sixty American female artists to be part of the 1939 San Francisco Golden Gate Exposition of Contemporary Painting. Heavily influenced by German-expressionism, she painted for competitions through President Roosevelt and the New Deal’s Federal Arts Project in the midst of the Great Depression. Strong won a $2600 competition and painted a six-panel 18 x 7 foot mural for the post office of Wenatchee, Washington called The Saga of Wenatchee (1939)– and used a wheelchair compatible, remote-controlled elevator built by her father in order to paint it. Upon its completion, the work was exhibited in the Seattle Art Museum in 1940, and the museum later gave her a solo show. Following this, she received other public artwork commissions until eventually, she moved to portraiture work. Strong greatly favored the human figure in her art pieces. Strong commissioned portraits while living in Denver, San Francisco, and New York– eventually joining Portraits, Inc. in New York City. Her later works were inspired by trips to Europe and reflected an inward melancholy and seemingly hopeless struggle– before her passing at the age of 44 from kidney disease.

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