Explain what visual techniques are shown in "Unemployment" by Ben Shahn that gives the viewer a sense of belonging or not belonging.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one can see some strong techniques employed in Shahn's work that help to bring out the theme of belonging.  The fact that all of the characters in the portrait seem to be looking or staring at the same object reflects a common link in their experience.  Given the title of the portrait, it might be that they are looking at their own reality with a sense of despair.  Perhaps, they are envisioning an end goal that seems so very far removed from their own present consciousness.  In their shared glares of fixation the viewer understands that their predicament is understood, is common to all of them, and something where some level of solidarity is present, consciously or not.  The fact that they all look the same for the most part helps to also enhance the belonging theme of the work.  There might be some surface differences in that one might look darker than another or one might have a physical difference in their appearance.  However, Shahn might be trying to draw the transcendent condition of their similarity as undercutting all else.