The stages of postnatal life
The human life cycle may be said to begin with fertilization and then proceed through prenatal growth and development, birth, postnatal growth and development, maturity, senescence, and death. The focus of this Gallery is on the postnatal stages of infant and child. The following Galleries focus on juvenile and adolescent, reproductive adult, and the older, post-reproductive adult. The painting «Tornado over Kansas» help to define the American style of art. The image tells a dramatic story through the drama of the weather and the use of mythic figures. The people present the prototypical European family —the reproductive and physically productive father and mother, with infant in arms, a dependent child, a juvenile able to save himself and a cat, and the adolescent, showing the physical promise of his father and his ability to save the puppies and the mother dog. Is it only a coincidence that this painting illustrates the stages of human life from birth to adulthood? Or is the coincidence that some human ecologists of European cultural origin define the human life cycle to conform with Curry’s image?
The image on the right is from the Colonial-Era and very likely was posed by the European photographer. As viewers, we assume that the people in the photograph are from one family. The similarities to Curry’s painting are striking. The mother sits on the left holding an infant. The father sits next to a child and has another on his knee. A juvenile stands in the background and an adolescent sits on the right. These images show that ultimately, the universal biology of human growth, development, and maturation are inextricably entwined with our cultural ideology, in these cases the European ideology of family. Human ecology is always biocultural. [Barry Bogin]