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Art, Design, and Symbolism Around Us

Posted 10.12.15 by Kelly Swickard

From "Nano house : innovations for small dwellings" by Phyllis Richardson (NA 7533 .R534 2011 Stacks)

Architecture is around us and we live in it, in our workplace and in our homes. It can be awe-inspiring or intimating, can evoke high art or brutal practicalism. Throughout history the architectural design of a home encompassed many statements: place for domestic functions, place for business, and a symbol of one's own.

The focus of this exhibit is to look at English domestic architecture as the antecedent for some of Baltimore's architecture, mostly domestic buildings. Other sections of this exhibit demonstrate the recognition of lost buildings; a turn to preservation, conservation, and sustainability; reconnection to the land and space; and contemporary tiny homes, which display ideas of home fitting ecologically into the city.

Baltimore has always had ties to British tastes and styles. When Baltimore was still ‘young,' in the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Georgian style was in vogue, exuding refinement and elegance. It used elements of geometrical symmetry and classicism with the clean lines of modernity.

Well-designed domestic buildings were symbols of wealth, taste, and education. American buildings like Monticello and the White House are examples of this symbolism and the desire to reflect renaissance philosophies, based on the works of 16th century Italian Palladio and classical sophistication. Rowhouses and townhomes in England used the elements of Georgian style: pediments, columns, cornices, and balanced geometrical forms and lines. In Baltimore, the close urban buildings did the same while the cottages on the "outskirts" replicated larger manors and medium sized cottages.

Another style that was often used in Baltimore is the English Tudor style. The resurgence of this style harkens back to the Golden Tudor Age of England, and the obvious symbolism of an English manor was desirable. These buildings are recognizable for their visible timber half-beams in plaster.

In the center of Baltimore, with its limited space, the domestic architecture integrates English styles and the necessities of affordability and environmental restrictions, all while evoking elegance and symbolism. Outlying areas of Baltimore conjure similarly the stylishness of English architecture. Even MICA's Main Building was designed to look like the buildings of renaissance Venice, which many English and American architects found highly desirable. The Main Building captures the inherent classicism and golden era of artistic vitality.

October 12 to 23, 2015
Curated by Kelly Swickard

Circulation Policy for Books on Exhibit

Circulating books on display in the museum cases are available for check out at any time. Please see a staff member at the circulation desk to request a book from the cases. For books on display from the Special Collections (Cage), please see a reference librarian.

Image Information

This page: From Nano house: innovations for small dwellings by Phyllis Richardson (NA 7533 .R534 2011 Stacks)
Thumbnail: From Lost Baltimore by Gregory J. Alexander (NA 735 .B3 A49 2013 Quarto)

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.