With Kara Walker, the message resonating through this single piece is only one in a kingdom of millions. Walker, with most of her art, uses silhouettes and plays with the limits of ambiguity and everything but. She paints a scene with enough detail to understand the concept she is trying to convey, but leaves space for detailed interpretation. It sometimes become difficult to decipher which limb belongs to which character, but this becomes a clever tactic that feeds personalization. In the image above titled, Cover of my Negro Novella, it resonates a feeling of exhaustion, It pulls the viewers into its time and place, and allows them to physically feel the torment of the past. Walker often tampers with landscapes and this is the prime example. The man (below the other), seems as of he is trudging up an exponentially steep slope. The man above him, also black, pulls his arm back, as if to remind his fellow negro that the only position they must remain in is to be inferior than the whites. His face speaks volumes; he looks up through the crack of the walls to something grander. The very idea of autonomy keeps his soul alive, as if enslavement fails to trouble him if he’s still connected to something bigger than both the prisoner and the jailer.
Edwin Forbes was an extremely influential artist during the American Civil War. In order to portray the time objectively as possible, he was known to draw anything and everything in its most natural state. In the image above, Edwin sketched the shabby exterior of a southern cabin used by the house servants and farm-hands. The house looks as if it will collapse, as if it lacks a proper foundation to support its weight. This, however, is contrasted by the spirt exerted from its inhabitants. Thousands of soldiers recalled with immense pleasure the kindness they received from the blacks in the south. The sick and wounded soldiers would receive not only love but pies and pastries from the old ‘aunties’;no one would be turned away. The liveness of the enslaved would be so impactful, where the town depicted above would radiate, not from eloquent houses or architecture, but from the dense souls living in it. Both Forbes and Walker speak about similar times using two drastically different art styles and manners. They, however, uniformly project the concept of breaking stereotypes and bringing the truth to light.