About This Exhibition

Brains and Toils: Prints of Labor and Industry from the Wichita Art Museum Collection explores ideas of labor and industry in early 20th-century America. Featuring prints of farmers, fishermen, dockworkers, and builders of all kinds, the exhibition considers both urban and rural workers and the ways in which their labor shaped all aspects of America life—from politics and the environment to the family and community.

With images of despair and heroism, boredom and excitement, mistreatment and unity, the exhibition considers the varied experiences and roles of the American worker during a time of radical change.

Featured printmakers include Claire Leighton, John Taylor Arms, Gordon Grant, Georges Schreiber, and others.


Man sitting at a chair in front of a panel of controllers in a manufacturing facility

Jackson Lee Nesbitt, Rolling Mills—Sheffield, 1953. Lithograph, 11 11/8 x 15 7/8 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Museum purchase, C.A. Seward Memorial Collection

A man walking on a girder of a building under construction with a city scape in the background.

James E. Allen, Spider Boy, 1937. Etching, 11 x 8 1/2 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Museum purchase, Director’s Discretionary Fund

Cities do not build themselves and machines cannot make machines, unless [at the] back of them are all the brains and toils of men.