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  • Lithograph depicting three miners wearing headlamps
    Elizabeth Olds (American, 1896–1991), Miners (WPA proof), 1937. Lithograph on paper. Emmett L. Hudspeth Art Collection of Elizabeth Olds, 2003.8.068. Harry Ransom Center.
  • Lithograph depicting three miners wearing headlamps

Public Works

Art by Elizabeth Olds

February 3 – October 6, 2024

Explore the under-told story of Elizabeth Olds (1896–1991), an innovative artist who worked to bring art into the daily lives of more Americans. The first woman to receive the Guggenheim Fellowship for visual arts, Olds became a vital force in the Works Progress Administration and later a celebrated children's book author-illustrator. As a WPA printmaker and educator, she captured the essence of Depression-era America and championed the affordability and accessibility of silkscreen printing. Through her dedication to experimentation, she sought to activate the uniquely democratic possibilities of printmaking and mobilize fine art as an impactful education tool. This exhibition represents the first critically engaged exploration of Olds's extensive body of work, showcasing over 100 prints, paintings, drawings, and illustrations from the 1920s to the 1960s. The exhibition examines Olds's artistic legacy—from her poignant portrayals of labor conditions in American industry, to her satirical social commentary, to her engaging children's books—and underscores the enduring significance of art in everyday life.

This exhibition was organized by Dr. Tracy Bonfitto, Curator of Art.

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Public Tour Schedule

Monday Closed  
Tuesday Noon  
Wednesday Noon  
Thursday Noon  
Friday Noon  
Saturday 1pm 2pm
Sunday 1pm 2pm
Family Guide Available!

Pick up a printed copy at the Visitor Service Desk.

Family Guide Family Guide - Digital Edition

National Endowment for the Humanities
Any views, findings, recommendations or conclusions expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Austin PBS

The Ransom Center appreciates the generosity of our promotional partners: CultureMap, and KUT 90.5 & KUTX 98.9.

From the Blog

Preparing Color Illustrations for Elizabeth Olds's Deep Treasure (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1958)