Women of Faith & Courage Part 2
When working on the women of faith and courage series, I wanted to select women in history who relied on or referenced their faith to overcome societal issues. Sojourner Truth was a formerly enslaved person, abolitionist, and civil rights activist.
Sojourner was born into slavery but escaped in 1826 with her infant daughter. Sojourner truth lived in a time when black enslaved women were stripped away from their children and families. She made history when she fought to recover her son, who was still enslaved but sold illegally to a new slave owner. She filed suit against the new owner and became the first black woman to win a case against a white man for the illegal sale of her son.
Truth was born Isabella, but she changed her name because she believed that the Spirit called her to preach the truth.
Ain’t I A Woman?
The “Ain’t I A Woman” speech, is widely known by those who have looked into her life. However, the most commonly referenced version has been found to be inaccurate, giving her a southern draw and modifying her story. Below is what is know to be the more accurate version recorded by Rev. Marius Robinson, Truth said:
I want to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman’s rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal. I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint, and a man a quart – why can’t she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, – for we can’t take more than our pint’ll hold. The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble. I can’t read, but I can hear. I have heard the Bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again. The Lady has spoken about Jesus, how he never spurned woman from him, and she was right. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and besought him to raise their brother. And Jesus wept and Lazarus came forth. And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part? But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.
My first objective when beginning the Sojourner Truth painting was to lay out her face. Since I did not start with a pencil drawing, I used my back paint to lay out her face and clothing. Once I had a painted base drawing, I painted the area surrounding her black.
The next step was to add more detail to her eyes, lips, and nose. Then I moved to her neck, ears, hair, and clothing. Since the painting is on 2’x3′ particle board, this was a continual process until I was able to build depth in the painting. I used a little more water than usual in my paintbrush due to the absorbency of the board. Even after I painted multiple layers, the absorbency continued to affect my methodology.
The final phase involved developing accuracy in her facial features.