ART & ARCHITECTURE OF THE DEEP SOUTH
REGION 3: THE DEEP SOUTH
Florida * Alabama* Mississippi * Louisiana * Arkansas
Residents of the American South created works of art starting in 1607, however it was not until the early 1960’s that Southern Art became recognized as a distinct genre.
Southern art is now more widely recognized as a specific genre compared to the regional art of other geographic regions of the U.S. This is a result of the unique role the American South played in the history of the United States. Slavery, though legal in every one of the thirteen original colonies, flourished and grew as an institution in the American South, while it died out in the North. Political issues surrounding slavery helped cause the American Civil War, and the settlement of that conflict defined American culture today more than any other single event in history. For that reason, Southern Art is an important element in the story of the U.S.
The American South features more than one style of architecture. Whether the styles are grand or more modest, their structures are designed to handle the South’s hot, humid weather. They include designs that foster Southerners’ sense of community.
Southern homes often share three things in common:
*Deep porches that keep houses cooler by shading the structures’ front walls and also provide a comfortable place for people to sit and visit—a welcome social nicety before the invention of air conditioning.
*Elevated foundations built several feet above the ground that helps protect homes from water damage due to flooding.
*Classical Architectural Features that gives both old and new homes details that add timeless elegance and a sense of history.
Today, most of the South’s art is found in museums, and the majority of the mansions and plantations serve as those museums. While the history remains controversial, exhibits like these are important in educating the public to America’s history.
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Numerous movements of Southern Art are included in this broad category, including Southern Expressionism & Southern Folk Art.
Themes in Southern Art include:
-More traditional male-female roles within the family and social structure
-A heightened awareness of racial relations stemming from a history of slavery, the Civil War, the Jim Crow laws, and the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.
-Stances on the Confederacy.
-Strong and continuing Christian religious traditions that include regular Sunday church attendance.
-An appreciation of uniquely Southern literature and stories.
-Distinctly Southern foods such as moonpies, RC Cola, okra, fried chicken, and “meat and three” restaurants.
-An appreciation of bluegrass and ‘country’ music.
*Southern Expressionism: Paintings typically presented with broad strokes, bold colors, rough surfaces, obscure figures and the expression of scenes and subjects consistent with that of southern life.
*All subject matter tends to be abstract, poetic, and inspired by the personal experience of the artist.
*Southern Folk Art: While Southern Expressionism shows scenes of life, views on politics and cultural issues, Folk Art focuses on objects of everyday existence.
*Folk Art is rustic, primitive and done by untrained artists.
*Materials are usually accessible and inexpensive. This art is generally affordable.
*Folk Art enjoys telling stories, and creating memories.
FOR MORE DETAIL AND INFO ON ART IN THE U.S., CHECK OUT THE SUMMARY: HERE
Southern home design has withstood the test of time and features many historical elements that can still be found in homes and buildings today.
Take a look at some favorite Southern home design trends, decorative elements, and styles that either originated in this region or can only really be found often in the South.
This design is simple: a long, narrow, rectangular building, sometimes without windows on the sides. You can’t pass through the house without going through every room, with doors at either end of the home. A traditional shotgun features a shared space — like a living room in the front, bedrooms stacked right behind each other, followed by the kitchen and bathroom in the back. Open all the doors at the same time and you get the steady airflow that’s crucial to surviving a Southern summer (especially when there was no central air).
Some say the term “shotgun” is used because you could stand on the front porch, fire a shotgun through the house and hit a rooster in the backyard — without touching a wall.
*Wrap- around Porches:
While not necessarily invented in the South, southern designers definitely perfected it. They provided a breeze-friendly place to relax and aided the Southern sense of community. Deep overhangs were another way to shield homeowners from the blistering sun while also keeping the rest of the home cool. This architectural feature prevented direct sunlight from hitting the inside of the home for too long. Also, the home’s furniture, curtains and other interior items were protected from sun damage and fading.
*’Haint’ Blue Paint:
You will often find Haint blue (pale blue/soft green shade) painted on Southern ceiling porches to protect the home’s occupants from “haints” — restless spirits of the dead who have not moved on from this world. This superstition came to the South with the slaves and seems to have stayed for good…maybe because it also seems to repel bugs.
‘Antebellum’ actually means ‘pre Civil War’ and refers to a time in history rather than a specific style. Antebellum mansions and plantation homes come in different styles and designs (including Greek revival, Neo-Classical and Federalist), but share a few key elements: symmetry, boxy look, stately pillars and columns, both front and rear center entrances, balconies and gabled roofs. Many newer homes choose these elements and maintain a glimpse into the past.
FOR MORE DETAIL ABOUT ARCHITECTURE IN THE U.S., CHECK OUT THE SUMMARY: HERE
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