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Charles Ward (1900-1962) created three murals for the Trenton Post Office: Progress of Industry installed in 1935 and Rural Delivery and Second Battle of Trenton installed in 1937. Ward was the first artist in the New Deal's public art sponsorship to submit his finished mural for final approval by a supervising architect. In April 1937 with the Trenton murals yet to be installed, Ward received a commission from the Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts to create a mural for the Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina Post Office.

Ward made two sketching trips to Roanoke Rapids. He was impressed with the town's agriculture and industry with its six textile mills, one paper mill and one power plant. Ward submitted several mural designs for the project, including The Use of Chemicals in Relation to Agriculture and The Story of Cotton from Field to Dressmaker's Shop. The Story of Cotton shows Ward's desire to portray the full spectrum of Roanoke Rapids' cotton industry from field to mill. A small section of his cotton subject was selected and the finished mural was titled Cotton Pickers. Installed in the post office in 1938, the mural remains intact as a local businessman recently purchased the building for offices. One of Ward's cotton mural studies traveled across the country in an exhibition of New Deal Art in 1938-1939. Ward saw the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in February 1939 on his way to Mexico for a four month painting trip.

In the four mural studies for The Use of Chemicals in Relation to Agriculture Ward shows how farmers used products such as fertilizer, insecticides, rat poison, and Japanese beetle traps to protect their livestock and crops. The delivery of these products by mail is included in two of the studies showing Ward's consideration of where these murals would be viewed.



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