Trouble Down South Art Challenge
Painting No. 7
I have shifted gears and am now working with the theme of slavery for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge with Leslie Saeta. My paintings are reflective of the stories in my Trouble Down South and Other Stories short story collection and my novel Bootlegger Haze (Books One and Two).
This is a painting of an African-American woman in chains. The painting was inspired by my short story “Slave Auction–Part One (A Short Story)” in which a woman and her children are sold separately on a slave auction block. Here is an excerpt from “Slave Auction–Part One (A Short Story).”
Clareene was Chattel Number 13 in the catalogue, and Horatio, Number 14. When it was time to be examined, they were stripped of their modest clothing down to their bare skin. They were washed in greasy water so that their bronzed skin would glisten in the mid-morning sunlight, making them look sleek and healthy and fit. The cruel, sadistic face of the slaveholder examining them burned into their minds as he chained them together preparing to lead them to the block.
Moments later Chattel No. 13 and 14 from the catalogue were called to the block. Clareene was hauled out in chains first, then her son. She waited with baited breath, hoping they would be sold as a family. They were examined by another male slaveholder as the prospective buyers stood around them, inspecting all of the stock. They walked around Horatio and his mother, staring them up and down and looking for any signs of disfigurement or lameness, just as their master had done to the many horses and cattle he had purchased over the years.
The buyers examined the inside of their mouths and inspected their teeth. One prospective buyer felt Clareene’s breasts to determine how fit she’d be to breed more children, Clareene cringing from the humiliation of it all. They observed her limbs for signs of muscular fitness and checked every crack and crevice that could conceal hidden wounds and bruises, something that could surely deter a prospective buyer. They wanted healthy slaves. Bruises, scars, or wounds would indicate a sickly or lame product, something they did not want.
Clareene was bid off first and was made to stand with the other Negros previously purchased by their new owners. Then when her oldest child, her only son, was put on the auction block, she was paralyzed with grief. The buyers had assembled around the block, prepared to bid on her child. She fought back the tears, but she could not fathom having to part forever from her child. She could not bear to see her son reduced to such a fate. Lord only knows the fate some young child slaves face once torn from their mothers’ bosoms.
Prints are available for purchase of the painting “Woman Enslaved.” Prints are available in sizes 8 x 10, 11 x 14, and 16 x 20 inches (unframed). Email Katrina Williams at stepartdesigns at hotmail dot com for prices.
Check out the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge with Leslie Saeta–http://www.lesliesaeta.blogspot.com/.
I am an artist and an author of southern and historical fiction and short stories. View all my artwork on my artist page at Daily Paintworks.
Check out more of my artwork at my Art Blog–KPWms Art Studio.