In the early 20th century, Grant Wood (SAIC 1913–16) was the visual spokesman for rural America.
In 1930 Grant Wood (SAIC 1913–16) created one of America’s most iconic paintings, American Gothic. Wood was born on a farm in Iowa and lived most of his life in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, drawing much of his inspiration from this environment. Wood studied at SAIC from 1913 to 1916, and was the spokesman for the Regionalist painting movement—wherein he famously remarked that all his best ideas for painting came while milking a cow.
Regionalism in painting was primarily situated in the Midwest and involved advanced figurative painting of rural American themes. SAIC alums Thomas Hart Benton (1907–09) and John Steuart Curry (1916–18) were also associated with the Regionalist movement. In fact, it was upon encouragement by Wood that the two artists returned to the Midwest to work. Through painting subjects and places that he knew and loved, Wood carved out a place for himself not only as the “patron artist” of Cedar Rapids, but also as a notable figure of 20th-century American art.