I am so excited to share this project on here, since I’ve been working on it for over a week! In Ghenglish we read Huck Finn, which I somewhat enjoyed since it dealt with racism a lot, but honestly the end of the book got redundant and pointless quick. I don’t like Tom Sawyer as a character either due to the drawn out ending, but opinions aside I loved making a project.
I ended up making a painting to summarize the book in my own visual way, which you can see from the process pics and reflection piece below:
For my project, I decided to create a painting to represent a few of the major symbols in the novel. Some of these symbols were of the obvious, like the Mississippi River and images of gold and chains, but I also chose to add some lesser known images, like that of a rattlesnake and a cross. Each of the images I included acted as one of the themes in Huck Finn, as I wanted a way to visually represent and summarize the deeper meanings of the book. I made the painting in the style of a movie poster to have something bold and exciting, just like Huck Finn’s adventures. Also, this style would catch people’s attention and introduce them to the book in an entirely new way.
I chose to paint my project with acrylic paint on a canvas, since I have experience painting with these mediums, and I love the boldness of acrylic paint. It’s permanent and vivid, which I thought would stand well for the rich adventures Huck went on. Also, I wanted to catch people’s attention, as I said before. Making a visual introduction to the reader was my reason for choosing to do this project because the cover art and book itself can come off as old and boring. By painting something exciting for the book, it could make people who haven’t read it realize that there is more to the story than meets the eye.
I found that finishing this piece was really satisfying because without any art classes, I don’t have much experience finishing a piece of art by a set, short deadline. The fact that I finished this piece on time and I’m proud of the result is a big achievement for me. If someone else were looking at my piece, I think they would realize just how creative I am as a person. My art is a very abstract way to view the book, and maybe that person would see my different way of thinking. The one thing I want to improve on overall is painting in general. I pushed my abilities far in creating this piece as I’ve never really drawn a snake, let alone painted one. I feel like this was a great show of my growing potential in art as I keep practicing and getting better.
The most important part of my project was the themes represented in the painting. My favorite symbol I decided to include was the rattlesnake, as I feel like its role in the book can go overlooked. The rattlesnake represents the theme of superstition and the characters’ intellectual and moral education. The scene with Huck placing the rattlesnake on Jim’s bed ends with Jim inevitably being bit, which was a major learning experience for Huck. Huck never really believed Jim’s superstitions until this point, and he also recognized how badly he acted as a person towards Jim. While Huck doesn’t own up to what he does, he never forgets what happened, and the two refer to their bad luck here when trying to explain what caused the fog and the other misfortunes they had while they were on the raft.
Another symbol I liked a lot was the image of handcuffs overlapping a cross. The handcuffs represent racism and slavery due to the bondage of African-Americans, while the cross is meant to represent the hypocrisy of “sivilized” society. Throughout the novel, Huck is told that he is uneducated, and that he should learn from the example of the other white people around him. This conflicts with Huck’s personal want to help Jim be free, and his ideas of how slaves are people, too. I represented society with a cross because I always found it odd that people who preach that they are good people of their religion also are okay with terrible things like slavery and racism. In the book, most of the people are very religious, but even the people Huck believes to be good support slavery. While this is the circumstances of the time, the beliefs of “sivilized” society back then prevented ideals from progressing and prevented prejudices towards blacks to go away.
Finally, the rest of my symbols all represent themes and/or characters, so here’s a list of them. The gold represents both Pap and the duke and the dauphin, as they were all greedy and apart of Huck’s adventures. The beer bottle represents Pap, as he was Huck’s reason to run away from his old life and set off on his adventure in the first place. The crown represents the duke and the dauphin, and the pickaxe represents Tom and the redundant time they had trying to set Jim “free”. Also, the gray around Huck Finn’s name was my way of having the fog shown in the painting. The center of the painting includes the Mississippi River, which was Huck and Jim’s safe haven, and the raft, their home away from home. All of these ideas encompass the book in a way that anyone who sees the painting could get an idea of what was going on. Even if they didn’t understand the symbolic meaning of them all, the beauty of reading is discovering these symbols for yourself.