Outlining Hope in American Gothic and Rural Rehabilitation Client Essay

Outlining Hope in American Gothic and Rural Rehabilitation Client Essay

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Grant Wood was a Regionalist artist who continually endeavored to capture the idyllic beauty of America’s farmlands. In 1930 he had been roaming through his hometown in Iowa searching for inspiration when he stumbled upon a house that left him spellbound. From this encounter came America’s iconic American Gothic. Not long after Wood’s masterpiece was complete the once ideal countryside and the people who tended to it were overcome by despair and suffering as the Great Depression came to be. It was a time of economic distress that affected nearly every nation. America’s stock market crashed in 1929 and by 1933 millions of Americans were found without work and consequently without adequate food, shelter, and other necessities. In 1935, things took a turn for the worst as severe winds and dust storms destroyed the southern Great Plains in the event that became known as the Dust Bowl. Farmers, who had been able to fall back on their crops during past depressions, were hit especially hard. With no work or way or other source of income, many farms were foreclosed, leaving countless families hungry and homeless. Ben Shahn, a Lithuanian-born man who had a deep passion for social injustice, captures the well-known hopelessness of the Great Depression through his photograph Rural Rehabilitation Client. Shahn and Wood use their art to depict the desperation of everyday farmers in America due to the terrors and adverse repercussions that the Great Depression incited.
American Gothic and Rural Rehabilitation Client have similar focal points, a stern man and hardened woman posing in front of their home. Though both seem to have dressed in their best apparel, it is apparent that the two couples do not have access to equal resources. The man and...


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...es in Rural Rehabilitation Client run horizontally and represent hopelessness. They symbolize that the couple’s life will move forward but it does not mean it will move upwards. The diversity of the superficial appearance of each picture contributes to the different symbolism each image contains.
The Great Depression was one of the hardest eras America has ever had to face. It tore families apart, leaving them with nothing but despair. Wood and Shahn use their pictures, American Gothic and Rural Rehabilitation Client, to depict this feeling of anguish. American Gothic displays the anxiety of those who experienced the first ripples of the Depression and Rural Rehabilitation Client shows the sheer desperation of those who lived during the worst days of the Depression. Through these two works of art, the feelings of hope and hopelessness are powerfully represented.

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