18 June 2012

The Muse: American Gothic

 If you were asked to picked out iconic American paintings, Grant Wood's American Gothic would undoubtedly be one of them. Its ubiquitous in our culture, used in advertisements, parodied over and over again, and yet I think there really is something beautiful about it. Wood sought to paint what he saw as America, his native Iowa. In its portrayal of the American Dream through the lens of hardworking farmers in the heartland of the Midwest there is an undeniable appeal. While we tend to think this is meant to be an unflattering portrait of the subjects, Grant wood saw it as anything but. According to the Art Institute of Chicago, who holds this painting in their collection "American Gothic is an image that epitomizes the Puritan ethic and virtues that he (Grant Wood) believed dignified the Midwestern character." He first picked his location, actually a relatively small white Gothic farmhouse in ,Iowa. He then imagined the type of people who would live there, a farmer and his spinster daughter. For his models he used real Iowans, his dentist and his own sister.
 This dress definitely had major American Gothic potential, even before I added the brooch. Its clearly an 80's relic, a la Laura Ashley, though it became marginally more contemporary once the shoulder pads and sleeves were removed.  I confess I really love the white bib collar, it is the perfect frame for  jewelry and is a nice crisp fabric. The dress itself is a well washed relaxed cotton so its actually as comfortable as a nightgown. That being said my mother was very vocal about her dislike for it, inquiring if I had a hoe-down to go to later. Perhaps if she had seen how well it photographed she would amend that opinion, but I doubt it. Nonetheless this outfit is the epitome of Puritan ethic and the virtues that dignify the Midwestern character (that I happen to live in New England is irrelevant). That and it included a real rock n' roll pair of cowboy boots, and don't cowboy boots always make everything just a little bit better?

 Dress (sleeves removed): vintage Olivia Rose New York, thrifted via Salvation Army Family Store
Brooch: vintage via Twice the Diva
Bracelet: vintage fob chain
Boots: Nine West

In loving memory on Father's Day
Gilbert J. Clappin, Jr.

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