Art Appreciation: “Christina’s World,” by Andrew Wyeth

I’m sure that there are many people out there that see “Christina’s World,” by Andrew Wyeth as a beautiful remembrance of whatever it might’ve been like to …live in Kansas, or Oklahoma, or one of those windblown, grain laden states, but for me it’s always been creepy and unnerving as hell.

Let’s deconstruct, shall we?

First off, the only human being in the painting looks as if she’s just roused from a nice, leisurely nap under the afternoon sun. Perhaps she was thinking about that nice boy Jeb down at the local Pack -n- Pump on route 4. Perhaps she was thinking about her homework objectives, and how she could best procrastinate and avoid doing the work entirely. Who knows?

The point is that she’s awake now, and she’s turning towards the house in the background in an almost eager, frightened, “Oh my god, what the hell is that noise coming from that creepy ass farm house up on the hill that my parents or a close friend might or might not live in?” kind of way.

This doesn’t look like a ‘gosh, I’m happy to be out in the middle of all this tawny colored crass, and I’m thrilled to be living in Kansas where there are NO decent gay clubs whatsoever.” kind of pose. It’s almost tentative, her hand positioned as if clutching at the ground in fear instead of simply for balance. It’s as if she’s deciding whether to head up and investigate the possible ruckus ensuing at the old farmhouse, or whether she should get the fuck outta dodge and just jump on Jed and ride him all the way to that fancy, schmancy New York city everybody’s been talking about.

As someone who is fairly freaked out by flat, wide open plains, the very fact that she’s in the middle of nowhere terrifies the hell out of me. I don’t get the reassuring feeling that there might be a tree or a handy threshing machine around, outside the scope of the frame – something that she can hop on to ride to the rescue, or hide behind. In my imagination, there is nothing but wheat and grass for MILES around – there’s nowhere to run to ground for shelter, and nothing to get behind to effectively dodge any possible incoming missiles that might be heading her way from the window of the house, or the barn.

I can almost hear the loud, wailing keen of the occupants of the house on the hill; once a safe, warm and welcoming place that has now turned into a hellish grand guignol carnival of coppery flavored charnel delights. Perhaps there’s a man going through the house, room to room, gutting/raping/cutting/shooting the various occupants – and the only thing that the girl in the pretty pink dress can do is sit there trembling while she waits for a dark figure to appear in the frame of the front door.

I can almost hear her desperate thoughts now:

“Surely he’ll be done soon – and then he’ll start looking for anybody else that might be around. Oh god. What if he sees me? The artist didn’t even give me a rock to hide behind! OMG WTF! Seriously!”

Then, just when I’m getting jittery from looking at the painting, something wet, red and slithery starts making its oily way from room to room – making little schlucking sounds as it slides along the floor. Is it a demon? One of the hellish creatures from the Cthonic mythos? A gigantic blood and fecal smeared grub with bright, shiny red eyes and razor sharp teeth? Oh god, it could be anything!

Run, Christina! RUN!!!

So, yeah. That’s pretty much why the painting creeps me the hell out.

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