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Art Show: Works of Steinbeck

They Never Came Back

by Debbie Vinci

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Art: They Never Came Back by Artist Debbie Vinci

Living in the Midwest, you can't help but see abandoned farmhouses and barns as you travel across the region. There is such a sadness and loneliness about them and I've often wondered if they were actually relics of the dust storms.

John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" is the defining novel regarding this difficult time in our nation's history. He vividly portrayed people who had been battered by the Depression, crushed by crop failures and then dealt what amounted to a death blow by these incredible dust storms. You have to admire the bravery of these people who decided to pick up and try to start somewhere else with nothing. "They were not farm men any more, but migrant men. And the thought, the planning, the long staring silence that had gone out to the fields, went now to the roads, to the distance, to the West."

In Woody Guthrie's "Dust Storm Disaster", there is such a graphic description of what these people faced:
"This storm took place at sundown and lasted through the night, When we looked out this morning we saw a terrible sight: We saw outside our windows where wheat fields they had grown Was now a rippling ocean of dust the wind had blown. It covered up our fences, it covered up our barns, It covered up our tractors in this wild and windy storm. We loaded our jalopies and piled our families in, We rattled down the highway to never come back again."

What I tried to portray in my work is the haunting sense of what was left behind. Not just farms, but lives and memories and home.

My photograph was taken with a Canon Rebel XT and then manipulated in Photoshop to enhance that sense of abandonment and loneliness--a place waiting for the families that would "never come back again".

Detail Images

Detail Image for art They Never Came Back

Detail Image for art They Never Came Back


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