Tuesday, April 12, 2011

fort ross/pioneer interiors

I have found myself repeatedly thinking about this shot I took while at Fort Ross a week ago, so I am posting it today.
Fort Ross was an old Russian Fort on the California Coast and it is now open to the public with some of the rooms in the fort recreated. Lots of animal hides and rustic log cabins with little Russian flourishes like hand carved cabinetry and chairs and hand painted strawberries on some of the beds. But this room is the one I keep coming back to. A bearskin on the wall and cabbage roses on the bed...there is something so brilliant about this juxtaposition. It reminds me of a book I ran across at William Stout book years ago on Alaskan pioneer interiors (yes, I bought it right away...it is completely amazing). But what is it about this rusticity that I respond to? What do you think of this? I am still figuring it out.

1 comment:

  1. I like the fact that the bear skin is hung up like a painting would be, or even as some people hang oriental rugs today -- as an art object. I can relate to the person who mounted it there, someone thinking 'this is beautiful and I made it' (or killed it, in the case of the bearskin). And I agree, the juxtaposition with the coverlet seems weird at first. But when I think about it, there is in both an homage to nature, to images or objects that allude to or suggest or are part of the natural world. When the means one has are limited, there is still the need to surround oneself with beauty, and the most accessible manifestation of that is through nature. That's why people with no money, without beautiful homes, will quench their spirits with trips to the country, or put feathers, or stones, or flowers, or some other object from nature on their bookshelves or tables, or walls, because nature contains everything we desire or aspire to in its simplest form. Don't you think so? And a larger impulse is at work, too, I believe -- that the longing for the beauty of nature can sometimes mean wanting to contain it, or subdue it in order to possess it. The skin of the bear is truly beautiful, but to obtain it requires some fairly prodigious effort. We domesticate ourselves by domesticating nature, of which we are an extension. It's unruly and wild and beautiful and terrifying all at the same time, as we ourselves are. Our designs on nature are designs on ourselves (in my humble opinion).