Art Idea Essay #1 — The Art of Place

Place affects lives through its ability to give people a sense of belonging. Although the location may be physical or virtual, I believe it gives most people a sense of comfort. Place could be as simple as a virtual world where someone explores a domain or a quiet place someone knows intimately well. Place effects lives by creating a location where people can feel accepted. Opportunities for place to exist occur in both abstract and the concrete means. In the abstract, place could be a virtual world or a painting for a hypothetical escape. The concrete examples of place would be the China/Korea towns within larger cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco. These places emphasize the culture and values from the mother country most of these people immigrated from. Instead of conforming to the concrete jungle the persons within these communities created a sense of belonging by recreating the comforts of home in this new and strange land. Place creates opportunities in the concrete world as sometimes migrants do not know the native tongue of a country; therefore, a place with their culture can give them a means of employment otherwise unavailable because of a language barrier.

William Merritt Chase (1849–1916) was an American artist who spent most of his time within the urban stomach of New York. During this time the city was thwart with industrialization thus city residents rarely saw landscapes of wide-open places or nature. This gave Chase the want to express place through his paintings, he chose to make his landscape works with locations of fields or areas untouched by man. It was these locations which gave Chase a means of bringing residents of this industrial metropolis away from the claustrophobic looming skyscrapers which were all too familiar. Another take on place is from Maynard Dixon (1875–1946), he was an artist who was local to the southwest with most of his environment being desert terrain. The desert is one of the most inhospitable biomes for life to exist within as the high temperatures during the day in addition to chilling temperatures in the evening are fatal to those unable to adapt. Dixon incorporates this balance of the opposites within his works through his contrast between different colors within his works; additionally, Dixon uses color to emphasize the dry punishing heat these areas are known for. It is through this skillful color choice Dixon accomplishes place as you can “feel” the heat of his works. Although a sociologist does not seem to have much in common with an artist both believe in documenting sense of place. Similarly, as Chase and Dixon documented the landscapes they wished to reside in, the sociologist takes a more measured data driven approach. For the article I found, Hughes is a sociologist working from home as many are during this time. This mandated lockdown has created a sense of place for Hughes as he is able to pay more attention to the passing of the seasons within the environment in nearest proximity to him. Hughes has come to comprehend this year despite its trials and tribulations, simply said, Hughes is feeling more present than he ever has thanks to place.

I think one of the greatest locations place can be created is work. A job is a job, this much is true; however, this does not always have to be the case. In my job I have a minor supervisory role which I use to create a sense of community with the staff I typically interact with. Although work isn’t always fun, I am content with the environment I have created, the staff know each other well and are more capable of depending on each other for things they may need. This could be something as minor to getting more bags from the stock room or something as major as covering shifts. The persons within these places can make or break the environment because a good culture may or may not exist. If each person has some knowledge of who their coworkers are it develops a relationship. This relationship makes said coworker no longer a coworker, they’re Krystal or Manny. Place is fluid it doesn’t have to be work or school or a quiet location; place has changed in the past and will continue to evolve in the future; this could mean a greater emphasis on the creation of virtual spaces. Generation Z and further generations have been using the internet to create a sense of place long before the Corona Virus, their ability to adapt has been shown through their capability to achieve and succeed despite being ripped out of school and forced to continue to work online. Although it is debatable whether place is different from generations past, I believe the difference are only at the surface level. Whether they be concrete or abstract if these locations create a sense of belonging the concept of place has been achieved.

Place is something people have created for decades. It has been accomplished through physical means such as a favorite/happy place and abstractly through art creating an awe for nature by painting a mountain. Place is beneficial as people without it may find themselves lost, disconnected, and alone. America is losing its sense of place, there is a divide within the country which most people are either ashamed or proud to be American. Our very culture is at stake and the outcome is unknown which is horrifying. The future of our nation has never been a question until now, at this point we’re just along for the ride. Speaking of being along for the ride I expect to handle my next year of isolation harshly. I hate to sound pessimistic but, the way things are right now aren’t good. I am beginning to struggle in school, which is something new for me; However, I will continue to fight to my best ability. I feel alone, I am teaching myself thus my success depends upon me and me alone. Everything around me has created a negative sense of place and although I do not like it, this forces me to adapt. In the future I hope to experience place in a different way. Currently place is a hostile environment and, in the future,, I hope place regains its positive association.