Six WPA murals thought lost rediscovered during renovation at University of Rhode Island

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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — Six murals created for a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s and 1940s at the University of Rhode Island and thought lost for decades have been rediscovered.

The murals, painted by artist Gino Conti of Providence, were found last month during a $1.5 million renovation of Edwards Hall funded by federal stimulus money. The school announced the find yesterday.

The colorful oil-on-canvas paintings were hung in the entryway of Edwards Hall, an auditorium. Ron Onorato, a URI art history professor, said it was not clear if the find includes all the work Conti did for the project.

He described the style of the works as late Cubist, including several abstract figures, and estimated the paintings were done between 1938 and 1941. Conti attended the Rhode Island School of Design, and Onorato said he was well known in the middle of the last century.

The school said the paintings were covered up in a renovation in the 1960s, but historians thought they were destroyed or misplaced.

The paintings were attached to the wall with wallpaper paste, and some sections are torn at the edges or had framing nailed to them, the school said. They will be removed and restored by the Williamstown Art Conservation Center in Williamstown, Mass., the school said.

Once the restoration is complete, the school plans to return the murals to Edwards Hall, said Thomas Frisbie-Fulton, URI’s director of campus planning.