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Art Through Time: A Global View

Domestic Life Compare: What Do Our Homes Say About Us?

Kirghiz Yurt

Kirghiz Yurt
Artist / Origin: Kirghiz maker(s)
Region: Russia, Central and North Asia
Date: 20th century
Period: 1900 CE – 2010 CE
Material: Felted-wool with appliqué, animal hair, wooden reed supports
Medium: Textiles and Fiber Arts
Location: The Pamirs, Sinkiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region), Northwest China
Credit: © Galen Rowell/CORBIS.

Fallingwater (exterior)

Fallingwater (exterior)
Artist / Origin: Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959)
Region: North America
Date: 1936–38
Period: 1900 CE – 2010 CE
Material: Concrete, steel, stone, and glass
Medium: Architecture and Planning
Dimensions: 5,330 sq. ft. (1,625 sq. m.)
Location: Bear Run, PA
Credit: ©Robert P. Ruschak, Courtesy Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

What do our homes say about us?

That which is necessary varies from culture to culture. Rural nomadic peoples have very different needs and economic and social concerns than sedentary urban communities, for instance. Both, however, require shelter. Moreover, as the two examples here demonstrate, that shelter becomes a vehicle for the expression of identity conveyed through not only functional solutions, but also aesthetic choices.

Questions to Consider

  • The yurt is home to nomadic peoples in Central Asia. Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, in contrast, was built as a permanent place of residence. How does each structure work to meet the needs of its residents?
  • Although yurts differ from region to region, all adhere to a similar form and are generally built by their future residents. Fallingwater, on the other hand, was a one-of-a-kind design created by a professional architect who was hired specifically for the job. What can you infer from these circumstances about the needs, values, or desires of the people who lived in each?
  • What is the relationship between each of these structures and its surroundings? Do you think that the environment inspired the designs for these structures, that the design dictated the location, or both?

Series Directory

Art Through Time: A Global View


Produced by THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG. 2009.
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  • ISBN: 1-57680-888-2