American Gothic Review, for the archives.

American Gothic Review, for the archives.

A Poem by i.am.the.sun.
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This is purely so I have this somewhere online to prevent it ever getting completely lost. Pay it no mind.

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American Gothic was painted by Grant Wood in 1930, just after the beginning of what would come to be known the great depression. It depicts a later aged couple standing in the foreground of a house against tree tops, a structure, and an empty sky. What Grant is trying to say with this work is that American freedom and national pride was not as engrained in the hearts and souls of the populace through and through as was being made out to be the case with the fallout and recovery of WWI. 
 
America and its hard working, blue collar, independent ethos and morals is being represented by the man, who is gripping a pitchfork in a tight fist. The pitchfork, synonymous with the farming and hard and honest work of the time which was the foundation of the country and the backbone of so much of the pride expressed in the possibility of the American Dream is placed front and center of the painting. It is first, with the family being second, and behind them, their home, and behind even that, nature. Work, family, the house, nature, in that order. Or rather, the economy, the people, comfort, the environment, in the same order. This is the American modus operandi of the time, and in 1930 it was failing them. With the American dust bowl just beginning, that which they had placed last had only just begun to show the people how delicate their economy, their people, and their comfort really are, and how unprepared everyone is to realize that.  
 
The pitchfork casts no discernable shadow against the man’s coveralls. This stands out as nearly everything else in view does cast a shadow. If you look at the coveralls, however, you will see a different kind of shadowing of the tool, one seen in the seams of the overalls themselves, continuing up, carried with the striped design of the man’s shirt ending at the collar. This “second shadow” depicts the pitchfork as being held up to the man’s throat. It’s clear here, that Wood is trying to say that the American way of life and their order of priorities are killing them, and it's appropriate that the man is holding the tool of his own demise, with his way of living both being the only support he has to lean on while also being the poisoned apple which he dines upon as well. 
 American Gothic was painted by Grant Wood in 1930, just after the beginning of what would come to be known the great depression. It depicts a later aged couple standing in the foreground of a house against tree tops, a structure, and an empty sky. What Grant is trying to say with this work is that American freedom and national pride was not as engrained in the hearts and souls of the populace through and through as was being made out to be the case with the fallout and recovery of WWI. 
 
America and its hard working, blue collar, independent ethos and morals is being represented by the man, who is gripping a pitchfork in a tight fist. The pitchfork, synonymous with the farming and hard and honest work of the time which was the foundation of the country and the backbone of so much of the pride expressed in the possibility of the American Dream is placed front and center of the painting. It is first, with the family being second, and behind them, their home, and behind even that, nature. Work, family, the house, nature, in that order. Or rather, the economy, the people, comfort, the environment, in the same order. This is the American modus operandi of the time, and in 1930 it was failing them. With the American dust bowl just beginning, that which they had placed last had only just begun to show the people how delicate their economy, their people, and their comfort really are, and how unprepared everyone is to realize that.  
 
The pitchfork casts no discernable shadow against the man’s coveralls. This stands out as nearly everything else in view does cast a shadow. If you look at the coveralls, however, you will see a different kind of shadowing of the tool, one seen in the seams of the overalls themselves, continuing up, carried with the striped design of the man’s shirt ending at the collar. This “second shadow” depicts the pitchfork as being held up to the man’s throat. It’s clear here, that Wood is trying to say that the American way of life and their order of priorities are killing them, and it's appropriate that the man is holding the tool of his own demise, with his way of living both being the only support he has to lean on while also being the poisoned apple which he dines upon as well. 
 
The woman represents a wanting of escape, a return to what they had given up for their independence. Her posture is stiff and proper, neatly put together with nary a hair out of place, while her counterpart juts his head forward and is dressed in wrinkled clothing. She stares at the man with a loathing gaze which, if followed, lands directly on the man’s nose. It wasn’t translated into English until 1901, but it gained such popularity over the globe that Pinnochio was made into Italian and Russian films, with a novel adaptation by Tolstoy, being later made into a Disney movie in 1940. This puppet was making an impression on all families looking to instill good morals in their children and teach them that work, study, and “goodness” are what an enjoyable life is made of. A couple like that of the one depicted, with their apparent age and class would doubtless have had children, and would be very familiar with the popular cautionary tales of the time. With this in mind, her gaze landing on the nose of the man representing the American ideology is no coincidence. She is watching him embody the lie all Americans have been telling themselves and is watching his nose grow in his old age, clearly drawing similarities.  
 
The only piece of luxury included in the scene is a golden brooch depicting who could be the queen of England, a perfect representation of what she has never known but longs for deeply- the order and established and stable way of life of the commonwealth. Even the queen engraved on the brooch is facing towards the man, England to America, as though waiting for him to crack, to give up, to admit defeat in the trying time of the onset of what will be the dirty thirties. Admit defeat and crawl back to the crown.  

The overall state of America is encapsulated perfectly, crowning their home in the weather vane, unseen, just out of frame. Which direction are the winds of change blowing? Grant Wood can’t tell you, and neither can America.

© 2021 i.am.the.sun.


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Added on April 6, 2021
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i.am.the.sun.
i.am.the.sun.

Burnaby, Thugz mansion, Canada



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