This post was written by Rebekah Law
Have you ever noticed that spaces breathe? They have rhythms, personalities, and memories. A space can become a powerful influence on a person taking into consideration so many different factors. Construction workers build spaces to house memories, interior designers work to make spaces inviting, and event planners transform spaces to be exciting. It is these factors that make people so attached to their homes. If spaces didn’t hold memories and have personalities, it would be easy to leave your childhood house when your family needed to move to a different space.
This phenomenon of spaces being a huge influencing tool has recently been in my mind. As a senior, North Park’s campus has been a space that holds many things. I have been aware of this to some extent in the past, but this year, my awareness was heightened through art. I am mainly a painter; however, North Park requires art majors take a sculpture class. Working three dimensionaly has always been frustratingly challenging and definitely gives me insight into non-artists perspective of hating art making because they “have no talent”. Needless to say, I was dreading this class and put it off as long as I could. The first project surprised me with the meaningfulness to it. The prompt was that we were to make a miniature sculpture of a space that we were comforted by as a child. The professor shared that her piece was a shed close to her childhood home. I started thinking of spaces in a way I hadn’t before. Spaces had great impact on me as a child without me ever being aware of it. I made a sculpture of a tree that stands in the front yard of my childhood home. Afterwards, we were told to write poems personifying this space. Suddenly, I realized this space had different meanings to me with the change of seasons. In Summer, with full foliage, I was protected and hidden within its branches. In Spring, its flowers surrounded me, and I felt like I was floating on a pink cloud of petals. In Fall, the fruit that was produced were a tool to keep other children out and its branches became a fortress. In Winter, the bare branches exposed me, and I was put on display while sitting in the tree. All of those feelings came from one space. The space treated me differently at different times.
Some of my most impactful pieces of art that I have made are about spaces. This sculpture of a crabapple tree was just one of many artworks I later realized were about spaces influencing and haunting me. I made paintings about benches, parks, and cars. As I approach the end of my time at North Park, I feel the need to document this space. I have been impacted by its personality and memories for the past four years, and its influence will stick with me longer than that. Some people live their lives never acknowledging how their surrounding environments have shaped them, and even more don’t allow their environments to have an influence on them. We are made up of our experiences. It is my humble opinion that people who are not aware of spaces’ power are missing out on a world of insight into themselves and others.