What I Learned from American Gothic

I’ve volunteered to teach the art classes for our homeschool co-op this year. The first painter that we are studying is Grant Wood. His name might not be recognized by most of us but one of his paintings, American Gothic, is recognized world-wide. That’s the painting with the stern-looking farmer holding the hay fork, standing next to a woman in an apron, with a white farmhouse behind them, with an upstairs window that is a Gothic arch. Grant Wood painted this image in 1930, just after the start of the Great Depression.

The more I study this painting, the more I think it speaks to us right now. I see the serious expressions left on the faces of these hard-working folks by tough economic times. (Are we there yet?) However,  I also take note of the items of beauty depicted in the painting. There is rick-rack decorating the edge of the woman’s apron; she is wearing a cameo pin; there are houseplants on the porch; and there is a lace curtain in that famous Gothic arch window. A woman’s touch, all.

American Gothic is saying to me: Life is a struggle but there is still beauty to help us get by!

And what did Grant Wood mean by his painting? Apparently, he did not like to share his thoughts about his paintings, so who knows?  We know that the man depicted was his dentist and the woman was his sister. The background house is in Eldon, Iowa, preserved today for tourists who want to snap their pics in front of it.

What can you do to beautify your surroundings in spite of these hard times?

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