Eman Simms is an English and German Studies double major. The following work was created for ENG 394: “The Rise of the Novel” and its Discontents.
Artist statement: “This creative project consists of an illustration of protagonist Unca Winkfield from the anonymously written novel The Female American, and an accompanying gloss thereof. The illustration is based on a depiction of the Virginian Indians’ sun idol, which is applied to the artwork to reflect Unca’s attempts to overrule and convert the natives to Christianity.”
For my creative project, I drew a picture of Unca Winkfield from The Female American with the intention to convey the biracial and bicultural qualities of Unca but also the solitariness and steadfastness of her Christian faith. This artwork is meant to argue that, while Unca is both Native American and English and shares the qualities of both ethnicities, the culture of her upbringing has instilled in her a solely English identity. Instances of such an identity can be seen in her adherence to Christianity and her disassociation from the Virginian natives. Despite her analogous heritage and familiarity with their tribal language, Unca views the natives not as kindred but as the other – heathens who are far below her. Therefore, she feels justified in taking advantage of them, as well as manipulating them to abolish their pagan faith and steer them in the direction of her own faith. To convey this, I depicted Unca similarly to the description of The Oracle of the Sun idol:
The image itself, of gold, greatly exceeded human size: it resembled a man clad in a long robe or vest; which reached quite down to the pedestal-stone or foundation on which it stood, and lay in folds upon it. This image was girt about the waist as with a girdle, and on each breast gathered to a point, fastened as it were, with a button; the neck and bosom quite bear like the manner of women; on the head was a curiously wrought crown and between the two breasts an image of the sun carved in gold, as was all the rest of it. The right hand supported the figure of a new moon, and the left held a cluster of stars. (86)
Similar to the idol, Unca
wears the “curiously wrought crown” and the “long robe or vest”. However, in
the place of the carved sun, a cross is etched into Unca’s chest; and she is griping
a Bible in her right hand and crushing the cluster of stars in her left. Stars
can symbolize many different things, one being that they represent the
connection of the spirit to all elements of the world. This is a concept with
which traditional Christians might disagree. Thus, Unca crushes the stars, signifying
the end the natives’ pagan religion. She devastates the hope and security the
natives’ gain from their idol god, and directs them to worship her god,
instead. The colorless, monochromic style of the sketch is meant to allude to
Unca’s dedication to her one religion, as well as her mixed heritage because of
the multiple shades of the single color. The silver hue is meant to represent
sophistication and grace in contrast to the gold of the idol which implies
grandeur and material wealth – worldly assets which traditional Christian
belief deems unworthy of worship.
“The Star Spiritual Meaning – The Symbolism Of The Star.” Spiritual Experience, 18 Apr. 2018, spiritualexperience.eu/star-spiritual-meaning/.
Bourn, Jennifer. “Color Meaning: Meaning of The Color Gold.” Bourn Creative, Bourn Creative, 5 Nov. 2010, http://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-gold/.
Bourn, Jennifer. “Color Meaning: Meaning of The Color Silver.” Bourn Creative, 30 Oct. 2010,
Winkfield, Unca Eliza. The Female American; or, The Adventures of Unca Eliza Winkfield. Michelle Burnham and James Freitas, Broadview Press; 2nd Edition, 2014.
Eman Simms ‘19 is a senior at Washington College, who is majoring in English and German, and minoring in Creative Writing. He has studied abroad this past summer at Universität Tübingen, Germany. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in either creative and professional writing or animation and graphic arts, and score a career in editing and publishing, story writing, or graphic design. Eman is a passionate artist, writer, and amateur music composer who has been working on his own novel series since the age of thirteen. During his freetime, he likes to write, draw comics about his fictional characters, and compose orchestras or piano pieces mainly on computer software, either as theme songs for his stories or characters or just because.