American artist Elsie Lower Pomeroy’s career can be considered in two phases: her precise scientific watercolors of fruit varietals for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and her extensive body of work featuring California life, landscape, and agriculture. A strong interest in agriculture and nature persisted throughout Pomeroy’s varied career and led to her series of five watercolor paintings of the Southern California citrus industry, completed in 1937. Pomeroy leveraged rhythmic abstraction and her knowledge of citriculture to bridge art and agriculture. The series contrasts the dangers of industrial orange cultivation with the economic and culinary upside, especially for the wealthy growers who profited from the labor depicted. Furthermore, while the series incorporates skills and knowledge from the artist’s USDA training, it represents a clear departure from pomological illustration, a genre closely associated with women, in favor of genre scenes that feature revealing portrayals of the danger of industrial citrus.

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