Learn more about the artists, places, and themes in this exhibition.

Spring Ploughing

A black and white print of a man with a donkey-drawn plough and a woman working a wavy field with a small house and trees in the background.

Planting (Spring Plowing), 1939, Thomas Hart Benton, American, 1889-1975, lithograph, 9 7/8 x 12 5/8 in., Figge Art Museum, City of Davenport Art Collection; museum purchase with funds provided by Mrs. Beverly Hayes, 1983.9, © T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts/UMB Bank Trustee/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Thomas Hart Benton depicted ploughing in many paintings, evidence of his artistic engagement with farm politics of the 1930s.

Though farm production went into overdrive to meet the demands of World War I, the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 paid farmers subsidies to reduce postwar surplus production and raise crop values.

This video clip from the 1936 film, The Plow that Broke the Plains documents overproduction for the American war effort, suggesting over plowing in the dry landscape was to blame for the fields of loose top soil that eroded in the high winds of the Dust Bowl.