Looking to the Future for Hope.

Am I not a man and a brother? ‘The Kneeling Slave’ © Hull Museums & Galleries. I Am Not a Man and a Brother? Digital image. Http://www.mylearning.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2012. <http://www.mylearning.org/campaigners-make-an-impact–in-yorkshire-and-lincolnshire/images/2-3364/>.

This painting exemplifies a time in history when the African Americans in the United States suffered from extreme oppression under the radical rule of Caucasian individuals.

The painting “I am not a man and not a brother?”, which is featured in Hull Museums and Galleries, features a African American man who is on one knee looking up into the sky. On the very bottom of the illustration there is a blue banner with gold lettering that says, “I am not a man and not a brother?” The man has cuffs on his hand and ankles, which are linked together by a large chain. The only article of clothing he has on his body is a small white cloth that is wrap around his lower waste. Though at first glance he looks like he is in physical shape, the artist seemed to make a point to show his skinny body by showing his ribs. The man’s hands are together as he is looking up into the sky. In the background there are a few lonely trees and bushes, along with a few mountain shape figures. The first thing the viewer’s eyes are drawn to is the man’s dark body because of the light colored background. To go along with that, in the top right corner of this painting, it looks as though the sun is breaking through dark clouds.

After looking at this image, one can interpret that the African American is on one knee and looking up to the sky because he is praying for something meaningful. The chains on his hands and ankles symbolize the oppression and restriction he has in his life. Viewers can speculate that he is praying for liberty and freedom to come into his life. The lack of clothing and his physical shape proves to the observers that he has been treating with little to no hospitality, and has been severally over worked.

The light background symbolizes a bright future for the man praying. As previously stated, the sun looks like it is breaking through dark storming clouds. The dark stormy clouds symbolize the evil he has experienced in his life. The sun symbolizes the good in life, and because it is breaking through the clouds, it confirms good is in the future to come for man.

The man in this painting has hope. I say this because though life hasn’t treated him well, he is still praying and believing that something will change. This painting is inspiring for the viewer, it does a good job of illustrating the horrible treatment African Americans received at this time and the continuous hope they had throughout the period of time.

Creative Commons License
Looking to the Future for Hope. by Robbie Nick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at http://www.mylearning.org/campaigners-make-an-impact–in-yorkshire-and-lincolnshire/images/2-3364/.


One comment

  1. You should have made the first statement more of a thesis than a background note of the picture. You could have maybe made your thesis why the man is praying? Your first paragraph about what is in the picture was very descriptive and picked up on things that I didn’t notice at first. In your interpretation of the painting I wish you had tried to make sense of the meaning of the words on the banner because they’re an important part of the image. The other interpretation about light and hope is perfect though.

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