Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables
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Narrator: In this portrait, the artist’s mother holds a sansevieria plant—known for its hardiness and endurance. Her light-green dress ties her visually to the farms beyond, suggesting a deep connection between her and the land. Each detail Wood has chosen to include here is significant. Explaining why this painting was so important to him, he later wrote: “I spent twenty years wandering around the world hunting ‘arty’ subjects to paint. I came to Cedar Rapids, my home town, and the first thing I noticed was the cross-stitched embroidery of my mother’s apron.”

Wood made the painting the year after going to Munich to supervise production of the Memorial Window. Like the other works in this gallery—including American Gothic—it resembles northern Renaissance portraits Wood had admired while he was there. Building on their example, he found a way to fuse style and subject matter that felt authentic to his time and place.

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