Mitchell Siporin (1910-1976) was the first permanent resident instructor of Art at Brandeis, and founded the Department of Fine Arts in 1951, soon after his hiring the same year. He began his painting career by focusing on labor issues during the Great Depression, aided by the Works Progress Administration, which funded several of his frescoes created in Chicago and St. Louis. Siporin joined the Army Art Corps during World War II, earning a Guggenheim Fellowship and Prix de Rome for his work during and after the war.
After Siporin joined the Brandeis faculty, he became the school's first professor to teach painting, drawing, and Art History. He was also the founder of the Brandeis Creative Arts Awards Commission, established in 1956 to honor American artists who had demonstrated extraordinary achievement. Siporin continued teaching until his untimely death in 1976.