Trouble Down South Art Challenge
Painting No. 8
Here is another painting on 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 boy 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).”
Horatio had caught the attention of several bidders as he stood naked on the auction block. When the bidding began, Clareene tore away from the purchased group of Negroes and pushed her way to the front of the group of buyers, pleading with her new master to purchase her only son. With a look of remonstrance and entreaty, she clung to his ankles, beseeching him in as pitiable a voice as a sinner bargaining with the devil to reconsider and spare her child from a fate worse than death. He looked down at her, perfectly passionless and embittered by her supplication, and struck her across the back of her head with such violent force that she momentarily lost her ability to speak. Then he kicked her in the ribs, knocking her to the side, her body wincing in pain, and then with all the energy she could muster, she crept agonizingly away from him.
She exclaimed, “Oh Lawd, save muh baby,” reaching upwards toward the auction block to touch her child one last time.
But before she could touch Horatio, another gentleman with a grim businesslike demeanor who had won the bid for her child snatched Horatio down from the block and shoved him over to his group of procured and waiting chattel, shocking the child and inciting him into inconsolable tears. Clareene fell to the ground once again, sobbing incessantly. The rough man pulled her up, unconcerned with the pain he had just inflicted on her, and shoved her back over toward his group of purchased Negroes. She was unable to console herself. This was one of Horatio’s earliest recollections of the bitterness and brutality of the sale of human chattel. He was in his fourth year and was forced to part from his mother, forever.
In the moments following the auction, Horatio was led away with the other newly-bought Negroes. This moment was the loneliest he had ever felt in his life. Then, suddenly he remembered the instructions of his mother, to turn to God for strength. He closed his eyes tightly and imagined talking directly with Him, asking Him to assuage the pain he was feeling deep inside. His mother had further instructed him to tell God of all his trials and afflictions, and whatever He told him to do, he was to obey.
He asked Him, “Is dis right, Oh Gawd? Is it right fo’ me ta be taken fum muh mama?”
His mother would tell him that when he asked God for an answer, to wait, and it would be revealed to him. After a few minutes, he did not receive an answer. Then he wondered how long he must wait.
After the auction ended and the bills of sale were written, the exodus of newly purchased Negroes, bound in shackles and carrying only bundles of modest clothing provided them by their new masters, marched to the other end of the street to the awaiting steamboats to transport them to their new, unknown destinations.
Prints are available for purchase of the painting “Boy 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.