Comparing Migrant Mother And Cindy Sherman's Paintings

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Throughout human history, art has been repeatedly used to communicate complicated emotions and situations without necessarily conveying the artist’s vision verbally. In essence, every artist’s goal is to illustrate human emotion effectively by reaching a dynamic multicultural audience. In photography, the capacity to capture human emotions depends on whether their expression is authentic or called into being through a conscious effort by the subject. Two works that effectively illustrate the different ways authentic and forced expressions determine how the audience relates with an image or setting are Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” (1936) and Cindy Sherman’s “Paintings #92” (1981). Both images portray women caught in distinct positions within…show more content…
The family members’ respective positions illustrate Lange’s desire to caption their suffering and particularly the mother’s sense of helplessness in alleviating this collective misery (Phelan). By placing the children on both sides of the mother, facing away and leaning on her shoulders with a baby asleep in her arms, Lange was able to focus the viewer’s attention on the only face they could see, the mother’s. By encompassing her, the children essentially make her the centerfold. They drown her in their suffering as she hopelessly contemplates on how to save them through her stern gaze. One can also argue that the mother essentially ‘dons’ the children’s suffering as they cling onto her while facing away. Their different sizes compliments the amount of space Lange chose to use because they bond to one another like an embedded system comprised of different components that share similar experiences. Their shared suffering bonds them as a family by showing how young and helpless the children are, the absence of a father-figure to act as the traditional breadwinner and the extent the mother was overwhelmed (Monnet

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