Sighting the Slaveship

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Courtney Brand
Oeding Tues/Thur 2:30P
Visual Representation Exercise
October 22, 2009

I chose “Sighting the Slave Ship” written by Pauline Stainer. After first reading the poem, I did a small amount of research on the speaker to get a feel of what type of writer she was. In reading some of her other work, I found that Stainer usually writes at the edge of something sacred. The language she uses is precise, numinous, and very pared. I began by using visualization while reading the poem, and went with what is presented first, sighted from the slave ship. The direction the slave ship is sailing is towards to world, as a whole. The first line in the poem states “we came to unexpected latitudes.” Define latitude, because not only is it used in geographic terms, it is used to describe freedom from narrow restrictions and opinions that slaves had to endure. I set up my artwork to look as though the slave ship was coming towards the world, in hopes to conquer it as a whole. The black gingerbread man standing on top of the world is a representation of what African Americans have accomplished since slavery-days and what restrictions have been overcome. I placed a bible on the deck of the ship to represent the “divine service” that was experienced on the ship. I used a water pail with outpouring bible scriptures to represent the “cool dispensing of sacrament in the burnished doldrums.” Doldrums is used to describe the low spirits of the slaves on the ship that had no idea what was in store for the future of their offspring. When visualizing the words of the poem I saw the word of God as a huge reason for keeping these slaves pressing on and hopeful during the long harsh journeys they had to tolerate, which is why I chose to outpour this from the pail. The “slight shift of cargo” is symbolized by the gingerbread man being on the boat, and while the boat looking forward to the future, him eventually being on top of the world. In Slavery days,...
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