In his exquisite and symbolic painting, To the Star, Rockwell Kent portrays the perpetual struggle of humankind and the struggle to achieve more. This masterpiece was displayed at the Columbus Museum of Arts. The painting overall has a smooth, surreal tone. The human figures at the bottom of the picture add to the tone because they are not perfectly realistic figures, but rather vague outlines and are soft, almost obscure. The emphasis is placed entirely on the balance between light and dark, as opposed to realistic detail. This painting was not intended to be an artistic work which sweeps the viewer away by the perfect details and realistic figures; rather, the work serves as a symbolic picture of how we as humans wrestle against all odds. Kent effectively uses the moon, stars, and light contrasted with the dark of the night and the foreboding clouds to portray this continual struggle.
Rockwell Kent was born in 1882, in New York ("Rockwell" l). David Traxel, a renowned biographer, stated that as a young child, Rockwell was extremely abstinent. He would enjoy rebelliously making fun of his sister's large teeth and posture. On one occasion he was quoted saying, "Why, when Dorothy goes for a walk she has to stop and take her teeth out to rest." Although his mother and aunt attempted to stop his rebellious ways, they were unsuccessful and decided to send him to military school (Traxel 9). After military school helped to curve Rockwell's behavior, he attended Columbia to study architecture and eventually went to the New York School of Art. He then spent his latter years performing all types of jobs throughout America. Overall, Rockwell was not only a phenomenal painter, muralist, and illustrator, but also a printmaker, book designer, architect, editor, speaker, and political activist (Traxel viii). Due to his versatility, he was able to portray an exceptionally breathtaking scene in To the Star with rich symbolism from all of his experiences the gathered throughout his life.