Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Places of Power
In the 1820s, the south was under siege. As a result, the home became a place where authority could be defined. In Southern architecture, classical revivalism grew in popularity, which was a nod to Thomas Jefferson who deemed it the “National” style. There was eventually a shift to Gothic architecture after the Civil War, but because of the region's depleted economic status, it would come much later than in other parts of the country. Until then, clinging to a style which Southerners identified with as their own, reinforced their “place” and, and more importantly, a sense of power.
The dining room in homes also figures prominently in hierarchies of power. The person who was once the big landowner was to nurture the community by inviting people of different socio-economical backgrounds to their table. Hal Crowther writes in this year’s home edition of the Oxford American, “I’m old enough to remember when the bosses house on the hill, valued in awe and whisper at a hundred thousand dollars, occupied the pinnacle of envy.”*
I also live in a house on a great big hill, but alas, I don’t own the property. Being the house on the highest point in the neighborhood, I have used the front side to display a rather large tarp emblazoned with the word “Obamarama”. Yes, it yells, "I support Barack Obama." Here is yet another example of a home as a place of power. It's garnered some ugly looks. In a move that I can only read as defiant, some random person, probably the neighbor across from me who has to look at my proclamation, put a sign in my yard in support of the Republican presidential candidate. Interestly, the next day McCain’s sign was plucked from my lawn (I didn't do it, I swear), but my sign, my coat of arms, still hangs, flapping in the wind.
*Something to consider next time your invited to that dinner party!