Sketch for Columbia and Cuba (c. 1898) by Kenyon Cox (1856-1919) Cabinet of American Illustration, Library of Congress

Two Views, First and Final Drafts and What Did You Mean Your Story To Be About?

Looking at the First Draft

 Maria Guzman in her book, Spain’s Long Shadow, said of this sketch:

“And not only might it (Columbia and Cuba) have an emancipatory appeal, but a subversive one as well…” 

But, Looking at the Final Product...

We easily see something startling: Whatever might have been suggested, implied or intended in the sketch became something different in the final product, which was a cover for Collier's Magazine, 1898.

Some critics interpreted this final version of the cover as representative of the “rhetoric of sisterhood” intended to espouse a sentimental view of U.S. foreign agendas. The message, critics say, is one of American imperialism (Columbia {America} protecting Cuba) during a period in which strong women were allegorical representations of the many variations on the “American Girl” as stand-in for “patriotism.”  

So, if your passion is politics...

Martha Banta, in her book, Imagining Women: Idea and Ideals in Cultural History,  states that women “...became the symbol for the nation as a political entity” and “she was assigned as a strong image harboring explicitly imperialistic connotations.” 

But if your politics is passion...

again, Maria Guzman: “It is not hard to see a naked Cuba clinging so intimately to an equally naked Columbia who appears to approve of the skin-to-skin contact as a highly gynoerotic image.”

Symbols and Subversives

May we fill our art - our books, our films, our visual fine arts and our fashions and designs with our universal truths so easily and quickly co-oped by anyone who says we haven't got any. Ah, but we do. We are the living symbols of our subversiveness.


Tell your own story.

Read your own story.

Be your own story.