The House Raising

James Penney


The House Raising by James Penney

About this piece

The House Raising depicts neighbors coming together to help build a house. In the foreground and center, two men shake hands, one holding a level and one holding a saw. Behind the men are two women, one raising her arms in celebration and the other holding a basket. To the left, another man stands holding spades and pickaxe. To the right a boy holds a horse by the reigns and waves to the group. The house is shown without the roof behind the group.

In the early homesteading days of Nebraska, events like this were commonplace. Without construction companies, homesteaders had to rely on neighbors and friends to complete large projects like this.

About James Penney

James Penney was born in St. Joseph Missouri in 1910. He is an artist known for landscapes, botanics, murals, and the modernist genre. He began his formal art education at the University of Kansas where he graduated in 1931. After graduation, he moved to New York City and studied at the Art Students League. During the WPA Federal Art Project, he was hired to complete numerous mural commissions.

Due to his experiences during the Depression, Penney had a knack for recycling discarded objects back into works of art. This instinct became the envy of latter-day ecologists. In 1963, he won a national competition to paint the murals in the vestibule of the Nebraska State Capitol.

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