"A Connecticut Yankee, or Man of the Soil," Stevan Dohanos (1935)
Connecticut Yankee, or Man of the Soil
American artist Stevan Dohanos worked in the style of Social Realism, creating illustrations and printworks characterized by his use of vivid colors, hyper-realistic details, and socio-political messages. Born in 1907 in Ohio, Dohanos was educated at the Cleveland Institute of Art and began his career as a freelance illustrator whose scenes depict scenes of American life, such as sports, transportation, and small-town America. In his later years, Dohanos crafted over 40 stamp designs for the United States Postal Service, and served as design coordinator at the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee. In this lithographic print entitled Connecticut Farmer, the artist uses grayscale tones and a stylized approach to form to depict a slender and strained-looking farmer. In this portrait, the figure fills the entire mid-frontal plane of the composition. Only the right side of the subject’s body remains visible, with the left side remaining on the shadow cast by the distant sun setting. The artist chose to use sharp contrasts to establish a clear link between the subject and the wheelbarrow behind him, sitting against the gradient tones of the sky, clouds, and field. Through an economy of line and color, the artist portrays the agricultural farmer as both a heroic figure and a victim of the Great Depression. Connecticut farmers were severely impacted by the Dust Bowl which rampaged through America’s agricultural economy throughout the 1930s. As dust storms damaged crop production, farmers were forced to abandon what had been once fertile lands.