This work both showcases the heroines of Darger’s epic narrative, The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, and wonderfully accentuates the artist’s key techniques. The seven Vivian sisters flank Angelinia Aronburg, another recurring protagonist in his story. An older man in military garb is one of the Vivian girls’ guardians; he looks through his spyglass for potential pursuers.
While Darger’s watercolor drawings have long been disseminated as individual works, it is likely that the artist conceived of each as part of a larger visual narrative connected with his written manuscripts. Given his vast collection of illustrated children’s books and popular magazines (discovered in his apartment alongside his oeuvre), Darger would have understood the importance of using illustration to supplement and expand text. This correlation to narrative is corroborated by the numbering system included on the titles of many works. This piece is labeled 23, implying an intended interaction with those drawings assigned 22 and 24.
While the nine human figures anchor the artwork, Darger included other whimsical elements in this composition. Turtles, a dog, a bird and vibrantly-colored rocks activate the landscape; the lightning bolts in the sky add dynamism to the top portion of the piece. The girls’ bright yellow hair and orange boots thrust the figures forward, and the lime green of the foreground trees similarly pushes them towards the viewer. Created of pieced sheets of paper (a technique found in all the artist’s large-scale works), the title is affixed in the bottom center on a piece of ruled notebook paper, making it an integral, but visually distanced, element of the work.