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About that space and place thing

February 20, 2015

Yepost19-Yi-Fu-Tuanars ago I came across a book by Yi-Fu Tuan: Space and Place – The Perspective of Experience. The title caught my attention. Mostly I wanted to know how I could apply it to my space/place: my roots in rural Iowa, my visceral response to 40’s big band music and Norman Rockwell art, and my chronic desire for the perfect Christmas. I read swatches of the book, put it away, and finally sold it to a used book store. Then I saw it again in a review (approximately 20 years later) and thought “how does this apply to art?” …so I bought it again.

I found a few nuggets:

Art makes images of feeling so that feeling is accessible to contemplation and thought. Social chatter and formulaic communication, in contrast, numb sensitivity. Even intimate feelings are more capable of being represented than most people realize.


Spaciousness is closely associated with the sense of being free. Freedom implies space; it means having the power and enough room in which to act.… In the act of moving, space and its attributes are directly experienced. An immobile person will have difficulty mastering even primitive ideas of abstract space, for such ideas develop out of movement—out of the direct experiencing of space through movement.

Hmmm, how could I translate this academic discussion of space and place into something visual for myself?  Trees? I like the invitation to enter the physical space that is offered by trees in a forest—there is mystery and a sense of sanctuary. Trees have a kind of personality and a frontal view (no matter the direction of your approach). They create a barrier, but also invite you to come beneath their branches into the space they guard.

I’ve been messing around with little charcoal/pencil/graphite sketches to try and get at that “space and place.” Here are some of them:


BTW, I recommend the book!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Sebastian Carlisle permalink
    February 21, 2015 7:56 pm

    I therein may lie my dilemma… not of art, but of my “space”, or seeming lack thereof… or lack of mobility or movement within the amount of space in which I feel have… therefore I don’t feel the freedom to “move”, to “live”, to “experience”, or to see myself as having the power to act or be… hmmmm… a delusional barrier to imaginary sanity…


    • February 23, 2015 6:48 pm

      Hey Sebastian,

      Space is relative, isn’t it? And how we experience it affects nearly everything in our daily lives. I don’t know about freedom–each of us has our own interpretation of limitations and boundaries…but I relate to the dilemma that is inherent…



  1. Black and white…and shades of gray | Rebecca Nolda - Studio Notes
  2. Another peek into space…and place | Rebecca Nolda - Studio Notes

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