Tailgate Talk, The Art of Agriculture

February 14, 2009 10:32 AM

The Art of Agriculture

In 1930, Iowa native and painter Grant Wood was intrigued by the architecture of a small white house in Eldon, Iowa. Wood decided to paint the house along with the kind of people he thought would live there. He recruited his dentist and his sister Nan to pose as a farmer and his unmarried daughter. Wood named his painting American Gothic after the upper window of the house, which resembled a medieval pointed arch.

Fast-forward to today and you'll find American Gothic at the Art Institute of Chicago—along with a supersized 3-D sculpture outside the museum that was inspired by the painting.

Artist J. Seward Johnson has created a series of sculptures, Icons Revisited, that includes his 25' tall "God Bless America” creation, which towers over Michigan Avenue. The Styrofoam and resin sculpture celebrates our American heritage and recognizes the agriculture community that sustains our country.

Johnson's goal with the Icons Revisited series is to provoke questions about the meanings of our icons and the impact that societal changes have on these images. This is where the suitcase comes in. In "God Bless America,” the addition of a suitcase at the feet of the farmers speaks to the notion of job outsourcing. The suitcase has stickers naming ports of call where American jobs have gone. It is a subtle addition, but Johnson hopes it will encourage thought about the ag industry, its traditions and its future.

"God Bless America” will be on view at Zeller Plaza on Michigan Avenue through the summer. populate the grounds and local farmers work the land.


What a Day!

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