Mitchell Siporin was a social realist artist who focused on labor issues. After his family moved to Chicago, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (Crane College), and in the early 1930s he worked as an illustrator for Esquire, The New Masses, and Ringmaster. Siporin gained early attention for his Haymarket series of drawings illustrating a notorious labor riot in Chicago in 1886 (1932–35). From 1937 to 1942 he painted public murals for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), including a mural for in a St. Louis post office that was the largest single government commission. It is among the few WPA projects to show social conflict. Siporin was represented in the Century of Progress exhibition at the New York World’s Fair of 1939, and after the U.S. entered the conflict of World War II he joined the army, serving in North Africa and Italy. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship (1945) and the Prix de Rome for painting (1949). Siporin began teaching as director of the summer school program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1948; in 1951 he founded the Department of Fine Arts at Brandeis University, where he taught until shortly before his death.