“You know how long it took me to save that money?”
“Exactly! Which is why a little woman of your background would have had her hands full, trying to run a big business like that. No, you’re better off where you’re at.”
What Tiana has taught me, quite sadly (and probably what Disney didn’t really intend) was that hard work wasn’t good enough to overcome systemic racism. Tiana got a feel good ending, but I feel like her story has been told many times in real life without a happy ending. There are people who work extremely hard, but never being able to catch up due to the color of their skin.
So here is Tiana, muscles tense with labor, tired and contemplative, and struggling against the system that prevents her success.
This is probably the most symbolic of all the Disney paintings I’ve done so far – the verticality of the walls, the position of her shadow looming over the segregation signs, Tiana sitting right between the divide, and the nearly imperceptible lean of her body to the right.