Art and About
Engaging with the creative force in everyday life

October 21st, 2007

The Pillars of Our Society

Posted by christina in Web Columns

Our house is all about art. There are barely enough vertical surfaces in our main living spaces to accommodate all the 2-dimensional artwork we want to hang on them. Our entry way and a section of our living room are devoted to music. We converted a bedroom into a library that we packed with shelves bursting with favorite pieces of literature. Our smallish bathrooms are just the right size to showcase smaller works of art. The hallway to our bedrooms is the gallery of our children’s artwork. My husband’s office houses his Asian art collection. The laundry room is in the process of being designed to show off the art that thematically doesn’t fit anywhere else in the rest of the house. Even when doing the laundry, we want to be surrounded by displays of beloved creativity.

Those in the know about design say that the front entrance of your home should reflect the personality of the homeowners — that is should be a little hint of what a visitor is going to find inside. Upon the completion of a major redesign and some minor remodeling last year, we looked at the front entrance of our house and decided it said nothing about the inside. Although our house is painted bright yellow, we never want to make a vanilla first impression on anyone coming to our door. We needed an art statement about art.

Ideas flew between my husband and me for months, ranging from decorative painting of the front doors, to stenciling “All the world’s a stage” on the top of the doors’ trim. We had two sidelight windows we needed to close up, and we considered punching in copper the symbolic representations of all the arts and shining light through the panels to literally enlightened visitors.

One idea after another was shot down due to expense or practicality. Besides, none of them were really the true expression of what we wanted to say. What did we want to say, anyway?

The answer, though a long time in coming, was actually very simple. We want to encourage the world (or the very small portion of it that visits our home) to imagine and create. Those are two of the tenets we parent with, they are what I espouse in Art And About, and they are what my husband and I frequently are found preaching about to anyone willing to listen.

Imagine and create are the pillars of our family culture and for our entryway art statement, we turned them into literal pillars. We had two 6-foot pieces of wood from an old header removed in our master bedroom remodel. We sanded them a little, but mostly left them knotted and imperfect before staining them the rich redwood color of our front doors. From copper flashing, we cut out the letters to make the words “imagine” and “create” and nailed one word vertically down each pillar. The kids cut squares out of the flashing (it cut very easily with scissors) and we nailed those to the back of the pillars. On each square, we mounted a brass or silver bell. The bell theme was echoed in large metal wind chimes we mounted on the Douglas fir slabs, which was our eventual choice to close up those two sidelights.

We took the pillars and stuck them into cement we poured in painted terracotta pots. They now stand as sentinels on either side of the entryway. To complete the artsy look, we purchased two hand-painted sisal rugs from Brazilian artist Claudia Oliveira and hung them like tapestries on our two front doors. They are abstract paintings entitled “The Melodious Harp” and “Modern Geometry.” It is absolutely intentional that those themes represent the creative in both the arts and the sciences. To top it off, we had a doormat custom made to read “Ars Gratia Artis,” or “art for art’s sake.”

Shortly after we erected the pillars, my kids asked me what they meant. I explained that we want to share our view with everyone that the most important thing you can do for yourself and the world is to imagine and create. At ages five and three, they gave me a look that made a clear statement all its own: “Duh!”

One Response to ' The Pillars of Our Society '

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  1. Carol Dent said,
    on November 7th, 2009 at 4:07 am

    What an excellent blog, I’ve added your feed to my RSS reader. :-)

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