JULY 21, 1945
HYDE PARK, Friday—One of the very interesting things to come out of the war has been the discovery of new artistic talent in various forms among soldiers and sailors, regardless of where they may be.
It is not very surprising to find that men who have had the ability to express themselves before in writing or as artists continue to do so even under the pressure of war conditions, for all art expression is a release from strain. Also, the artistic temperament usually is an emotional one which responds to every incident of life. Therefore, one can well understand that a man who was a writer or artist before he entered the service scribbles or paints or sculpts no matter where he is or what he is obliged to do.
The remarkable thing that has happened is that many new artists have emerged and have shown a degree of competence which one would hardly have expected.
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Early this month, in Washington, D. C., a soldiers' art exhibition was sponsored jointly by the National Gallery and the Special Services Division of the Army Service Forces. Eight soldiers were awarded prizes of $100 war bonds. These winners were the best of 9,000 final entries chosen at other exhibitions held under Army sponsorship. The work was done in off-duty time, under the Army's program of promoting arts and crafts as a leisure-time activity.
This special exhibition will be open through September 4th. It contains paintings in different mediums, mural designs, sculpture, drawings, prints and photographs.
Though I have been unable to visit the exhibition, I have greatly enjoyed looking through the little book in which many of the winning productions are reproduced. It is called "Soldier Art" and is published in the Fighting Forces Series. I think it is a record of which we will be proud in the future, for it will show that, even in the midst of war, we fostered a great civilizing activity.
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It is interesting that I have been sent some clippings of some rather severe editorials in several Southern newspapers on the subject of a speech made by an important gentleman in Congress criticizing our Negro troops. There does not seem to be complete agreement with this gentleman's point of view. I have also seen some letters from officers in charge of Negro troops overseas who are greatly affronted. So perhaps, if this gentleman in Congress takes the trouble to read the papers, he may realize that he was intemperate in his remarks.