Dorothea A. Farrington
About the Artist
A resident of Suffolk, Virginia, Dorothea Ann Farrington first received word in January 1936 that she would be employed by the Works Progress Administration's Federal Project Number 1 to produce pen-and-ink illustrations for the Virginia Commission of Conservation and Development's publications. Originally hired for a period of six months, Farrington received a monthly salary of $53 for her drawings of historic houses.
It didn't take long for the history division staff to appreciate Farrington's work and recruit her for additional projects. In an April 1936 letter, the division's field assistant Rex Allyn wrote to Robert N. Baker Jr., project superintendent of the WPA office in Suffolk, about transferring Farrington from Suffolk to Richmond. "Miss Farrington is doing very satisfactory work, and her drawings are going in the W.P.A. exhibit at the John Marshall Hotel starting Monday."
Farrington also worked on other art projects for the commission. In an October 1936 issue of The W.P.A. Record in Virginia newsletter, Federal Art Project (FAP) state director Adèle Clark published an update on activities of the WPA Art Project in Virginia, including "projects . . . under the sponsorship of the State Conservation Commission on which two artists, Edward Darby and Dorothea Farrington, are engaged in making pen and ink drawings of historical buildings." Clark also mentioned that Farrington assisted the commission "in making a large pictorial map of Virginia, now hanging in the exhibit of the State Conservation Commission in the Automobile Association of America building in Washington."
In July 1937, Rex Allyn wrote to FAP assistant director Thomas C. Parker asking to keep Farrington on the project. "She is doing excellent work, which will be in publication as soon as the information collected from the Historical Inventory is completed." He also noted that Farrington would be doing work for the Valentine Museum simultaneously and would be taking a stenographic course with the hope of "securing a permanent position." That month, division director Hamilton J. Eckenrode sent Adèle Clark a similar request. He wrote, "I should dislike very much to lose the services of Miss Farrington, as she has done very faithful and effective work, and is at the present time producing drawings that are both artistically fine and that would make excellent cuts for the book." Eckenrode estimated that he would need the work of one artist for at least six months to complete the artwork for the commission's book on old Virginia homes. Although the publication project never made it to press, likely due to diminishing funds, Farrington produced about twenty-five pen-and-ink drawings of houses from photographs taken by the commission's history division.
Like fellow FAP artist Edward Darby, Farrington became involved in the Index of American Design, another Federal Art Project funded by the WPA. From 1935 to 1942, Farrington rendered a number of objects, including desks, chairs, clocks, and lanterns, using a variety of media such as watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, and graphite. One of Farrington's furniture plates was displayed in an exhibition of the Index of American Design's Virginia Unit held at the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce. The original drawings are now in the collections of the National Gallery of Art.
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821–1989 (Beta) [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Clark, Adèle. "Art Stimulated through WPA Funds," The W.P.A. Record in Virginia 1 (October 1936): 11–16. Box 182, Adèle Goodman Clark Papers, Collection no. M9, Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Letter, H. J. Eckenrode to Adèle Clark, 8 July 1937, WPA Artists Project Folder, Virginia Department of Conservation and Development, Division of History, Records, 1927–1950. Accession 24806a-c, 25913, and 41571, State Records Collection, the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.
Letter, R. M. Allyn to R. N. Baker Jr., 25 April 1936, WPA Artists Project Folder, Virginia Department of Conservation and Development, Division of History, Records, 1927–1950. Accession 24806a-c, 25913, and 41571, State Records Collection, the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.
Letter, R. M. Allyn to Thomas C. Parker, 12 July 1937, WPA Artists Project Folder, Virginia Department of Conservation and Development, Division of History, Records, 1927–1950. Accession 24806a-c, 25913, and 41571, State Records Collection, the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.
Report of Production of Division of Professional and Service Projects Form, Federal Works Agency, Works Projects Administration, Report for Art Production for Period October 1, 1941, through December 31, 1941, Adèle Goodman Clark Papers, Collection No. M9, Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University.