Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Miss American Gothic

Seen exiting the Red Line to Howard at about 8:30 a.m.

It was the art scandal of the 21st century when that famous farm woman, that mother of the Midwest, walked out of American Gothic. Apparently she’d had enough of standing beside her dour father, who was more inclined to hold his pitchfork than he was to comfort her. That’s how it often was back then—the men cared too much about the land, too much about survival to be particularly attentive to their families. They were more excited by rain after a drought than they were by the opposite sex. Women were simply there to produce more farmhands—strong, lithe boys.

But Miss American Gothic had seen the world change time and time again as she stared at the museum patrons who came to stare at her. She saw women alone, women wearing pants, women holding hands with other women. She never asked to be an archetype, loveless and lifeless for all eternity. Finally, when she could take it no longer, she summoned her courage and stepped out of that dreary puritanical landscape for good.

Sometimes people recognized her on the street—art connoisseurs, students, historians—and they begged her to return. She refused, but not angrily. They could never understand the oppression of being painted down. Some of them reported that her father looked a little forlorn without her, but she wasn’t bothered. He’d had his chance to love her. “That’s just how his face is,” she insisted.

So I always thought that American Gothic was a painting of a husband and wife, but apparently not. What do I know about art history? (Very little.) I originally wrote it that way, so I had to change some stuff up here at the office. 


  1. Love this! I also thought it was a married couple.


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