Date of Award

Summer 2016

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies


Dr. Paul B. Harris


The purpose of this thesis is to draw parallels between the art and philosophy of William Morris (1834-1896) and Diego Rivera (1886-1957). Morris drew on his interest in gothic art and architecture, his love of Romantic literature, and his commitment to social reform, to articulate the aesthetic and social vision of the Arts and Crafts Movement in England. Examples of Morris’s writings and his handicraft in the form of wallpapers, books, furniture, and the Red House will be examined. Diego Rivera was a Mexican painter and socialist activist perhaps best known for his murals depicting the working class. Several of Rivera’s murals will be discussed. Although not contemporaries, Morris and Rivera shared ideological kinship by expressing national identity in their work, advocating for art for all people, and promoting a socialist agenda through their writing and art. Divided into two sections, the paper provides a brief biography of each man, describing their lives and works, followed by a discussion of the nationalistic themes portrayed in their work, their views on availability of art for everyone, and their beliefs that socialism could elevate working classes. William Morris and Diego Rivera lived on different continents during separate time periods in history and yet had similar sources of inspiration that influenced their work. Both were influenced by architecture, the relationship between labor and mechanized production, the cultural and historical identity of their respective homelands, and socialist politics; both, in their own way, embraced their theme of art for the people.

Rights Holder

Heidi Soflkiancs-Shugg