Friday, May 20, 2011

John Stueart Currys "The Mississippi"

John Steuart Curry is an artist that is well known for his famous paintings of his home state of Kansas. He enjoyed showing the rest of the world what Kansas baptisms were like, what happened during a twister, what the floods looked like. He was even asked to paint murals in the state capital building of Kansas. Unfortunately, most people did not like his paintings and thought it just showed that Kansas was a state constantly destroyed by horrible and dangerous weather, and his paintings weren’t really appreciated until after his death.
His painting “The Mississippi” is a very detailed and powerful piece of art. The first situation that catches your eye is that there is an African American family clinging to a roof of a house in middle of a flood. The family consists of a mother, father, and four kids. The father is praying up to the sky and the sky around his hands is turning a light yellow. The three older kids are clinging to the house, with no help from their parents, but are still looking at the sky with their father. The mother is lying on the roof, protecting the fourth child, a baby wrapped in a blanket, but she is looking down. There is also a black cat on the roof right behind her. Is the cat a symbol for bad luck? I think so. The mothers half of the roof is falling apart and she seems to have lost all hope and is tired of everything, whle the father is still filled with hope and praying. The differences between the parents reactions and the children being between them makes the kids seem like an “innocent” archetype, since they are young and inexperienced, and don’t know what to do or who to follow.
The trees in the background are supposed to be a symbol of hope and faith that they will find something better to hold on to than a floating roof. The colors in the sky are to symbolize that the dad will most likely be saved over the mom, since the sky is lighter over him.


  1. This is a very powerful piece. iT shows religion and disaster at the same time. I do feel like they will be saved because the father is praying up to the sky but i think all of them will be saved. Cause the sky looks light all around them even the mother who's head is down. This peice has many different interpretations and this is just mine.

  2. Curry does a great job capturing the emotions of the family members. The innocence of children allows them to believe in their father, to believe they will be saved; the expressions on their faces are hopeful as the look up to the sky, waiting for something to happen. It's obvious the mother has given up. She appears to have struggled her whole life, and now this; this is too much for her.

  3. I believe you could also look at this picture through a gender lense. If you look at the picture the family is 'leaning' on the father. The father is also the focal point of this picture. It could try to show the sterotype that males are stronger too because he is the only one not about to fall asleep and like you said the dad may be more likely to be saved over the mom. you did point out a lot of good details i didnt realize at first