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American Cultural Identity - Grant Wood

American cultural identity examined through one of the most recognized and parodied pieces of 20th century art.

Brandon Williams

on 26 September 2018

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Transcript of American Cultural Identity - Grant Wood

American Cultural Identity
What is
the integrated pattern of customary
social practices
material traits
, and
, associated with a particular group of people in a particular place or time.
Popular: ________________________________________________

Ethnic: ________________________________________________

Political: ________________________________________________

Academic: ________________________________________________

Corporate: ________________________________________________

Other: ________________________________________________
What is
America as a new Eden
Belief in progress
Triumph of the individual
Faith in the American Dream
Skeptical of idealist Puritan traditions
Disillusionment with spiritual traditions
Loss of innocence left people jaded and apathetic
Rise of existentialism (philosophical search for meaning and purpose in life
Introduction of Freudian psychoanalysis
Bold experimentation in: art, literature, music, architecture, et cetera
Rise of the anti-hero
Do you recognize this house?
How about when they are together?
I thought everyone knew
Nan Wood Graham
and Dr. Byron McKeeby!
American Gothic (1943) - Gordon Parks
American Gothic (1930)
Grant Wood
What does the title suggest about Wood's indelible painting?
Elements to Consider
Does it help to know it's in Eldon, Iowa?
How about this picture then?
Recognize her?
How about him?
Political Cartoons
A rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate (or pay homage) to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form.
J. Seward Johnson Jr.
An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.
It's also known as the Dibble House. Now do you know it?

On your way stranger!

There aint nothing for you here.

You’re only courting danger,

I’m king of this frontier!

You’re talking to the fork!

And it won’t hear no blaspheming!

You’d better start to walk

(My sister – stop that screaming!)

Compose yourself my dear!

We just don’t want no trouble.

Supplies will last all year

And we got more than double.

Remember when the law came by

Twas I that they did question.

Then you produced that hot meat pie

That gave em indigestion.

I aint seen no missing folk!

I told em loud and clear.

Yet still they all would prod and poke

Which filled me full of fear.

Stranger why you standing there?

Be gone into the rain.

And while you ride, just say a prayer

That you don’t pass this way again.

©Lynda M Roberts 2011
Video Games?
What qualities seem to define the American spirit?
How about from another perspective?
Does this famous painter's version help?
Wait, try this side.
Fun Facts about Gordon Parks:

Born in Fort Scott, Kansas
Father was a farmer who grew corn, beets, turnips, potatoes, collard greens, and tomatoes. They also had a few ducks, chickens, and hogs
Attended a segregated elementary school
Went to an integrated high school, but blacks were not allowed to play sports or attend school social activities, and were discouraged from aspirations of higher education
When he was eleven, three white boys threw him into the Marmaton River, knowing he couldn't swim
Briefly worked in the gentlemen's club, where he was able to read many books from the club library
Married and divorced three times.
For many years, Parks was romantically involved with Gloria Vanderbilt, the railroad heiress and designer. Their relationship endured throughout his lifetime.
Was the godfather of Malcolm X's daughter, Qubilah Shabazz.
Gordon Parks received more than twenty honorary doctorates in his lifetime
He died of cancer at the age of 93 and is buried in his hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas.

"Parson Weems' Fable"
"Arbor Day"
"Paul Revere's Midnight Ride"
Within the larger culture, there are
with their own unique characteristics.
Why has Wood's painting fascinated people for so long?
What is the woman looking at? What does her expression indicate? What do her clothes signify? Does anything else about her seem out of place?
Does the man's absent gaze suggest anything? What does his choice of clothing indicate? What is important about his pitchfork?
How is the window's shape important to the composition? With what is the shape usually associated? What else stands out about the window?
What is the obscured object beyond the trees?
A Thirteen Part Murder Mystery
resist, oppose, or reject the mainstream culture.
Full transcript