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Farm Update Wednesday October 23

October 23, 2008

Grant Wood, painter of the iconic image, American Gothic, once wrote, “All the good ideas I’ve ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.” As two students posed this afternoon for a photo shoot at the farm, stern faced and pitchfork in hand, I thought about Wood’s celebrated painting  and how it continues to be reproduced, studied, and parodied– from the Music Man to Rocky Horror Picture Show to Desperate Housewives, American Gothic is perhaps the most parodied image of the last century (One of the first is pictured above: Gordon Parks’ 1942 American Gothic). When it was first published in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, real Iowa farmers and their wives were apparently offended by the caricature; to them, it was a nasty depiction of Midwestern farmers as dour and grim country folk. Elsewhere in the country, critics assumed it was a satire about the stiffness of American rural life. Yet, as the nation fell into the Great Depression, people began to see the painting as a celebration of the American farmer, a tribute to the determination and tenacity of everyday families. All of this leaves us to wonder, what is it about American Gothic that makes such an enduring impression? Why does it continue to hold this place in our collective imagination?

Fear not friends, actual work was also accomplished at the Yale Farm today– Will and I spent time covering beds of escarole and other winter greens with remay, a lightweight cloth that allows sun and rain to penetrate, but protects the plants from insects and more importantly, the cold. I also continued work on the north greenhouse as we prepare it for winter planting, laying out string to mark the edges of the beds and digging trenches to create raised beds. 

-Ida Assefa

One Comment leave one →
  1. Quynh Do permalink
    October 26, 2008 11:21 pm

    Midwesterners do in fact take pride in our agricultural history.
    The painting is attractive (though not in the conventional sense) and captivating. I must say Grant Wood’s dentist makes for a good farmer.

    The guy in the YDN parody is in my Shakespeare section.

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