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The Places That Ground Us


Art + Design, Our Voice

  • Stephen Cruise's Stock installation with #MuseumFromHome DIY written over
  • Family sitting grouped together, looking various digital devices
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Karly Boileau and Gabrielle Clermont | May 19, 2021

#MuseumfronHome DIY is a new series of curated content just for you with each post focusing on a new theme.

With everything that has been going on in the world, it has us thinking about the places and spaces in our life that we find inspiring, comforting, and safe. 'Place' in art can be real or imagined, private or public and it can take many forms - from landscape painting, to street art, to earth art. For this week's #MuseumAtHome DIY we look at different artist interpretations of place and ask you to think about the places you inhabit and what they mean to you.

Site-specific art is one of the many ways in which artists can interpret a place, Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson is probably one of the most famous examples of this. For an overview of site-specific artwork, check out this overview from the Guggenheim Museum.

Over the years, Cambridge Art Galleries | Idea Exchange has commissioned artists to create site-specific artworks that either reference the library or the Cambridge community. Check out Stephen Cruise's Stock, which was commissioned for the Preston Branch renovations in 2002, or Mindy Yan Miller's Cambridge Clothing Index (Closet Stories), which references Cambridge's history to the textile industry, or Auto Tapestry by Badanna Zack, which references Cambridge's connection to the automotive industry. Out in the community, the Cambridge Sculpture Garden is another great example of local site-specific artwork you can explore or see if you can find all of the buildings in downtown Cambridge that feature a mural from the 2017 Cambridge International Street Art Festival.

Celebrate the life of the artist Christo who was known for creating large-scale, site-specific installations with partner, Jeanne-Claude. 

Gregory Crewdson is a photographic artist who creates large-scale cinematic photographs that often reference elements of suburbia. Check out this video by The New Yorker that discusses his work, Cathedral of the Pines.

Have you noticed the messages of inspiration and thank-you notes written in sidewalk chalk in your neighbourhood? Or maybe you have seen artwork displayed in windows as you go for a walk. You can create your own site-specific work using sidewalk chalk and imagination! Here are some great ideas to get you started.

**Bonus Content

How does a dying working-class town end up betting its future on art? With 80% of its downtown buildings closed, North Adams, Massachusetts united blue-collar locals with art world luminaries to transform economic failure into America's largest centre for contemporary art, MASS MoCa. A film by North Adams local, Nancy Kelly, Downside Up: How Art can change the Spirit of a Place is about a tentative, dangerous notion of hope in a city widely viewed as hopeless.

With an introduction and video art by Laurie Anderson, ART21: Place "considers the influence of place - physical, conceptual, or psychological; regional, national, or transnational - on artists.

Go behind-the-scenes in The Aesthetics of Representation: Gregory Crewdson where much like a film director [Crewdson] achieves his startling images by working with a professional crew including a director of photography, a camera operator, a production designer, actors, and a casting director. Astonishingly elaborate sets are the rule for most of the 'incidents' [Crewdson] creates.

Try your hand at landscape painting with this painting foundations course by LinkedIn Learning (formerly

Transform your photographs into a narrative experience by creating a sense of place with these tips and tricks with Episode 22 of National Geographic Masters of Photography: Moment, Gesture, Place (Storytelling)

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