Geography of Home

I rarely write about people. Instead, I write about the places in which they live, attempting in some way to interview their houses and offices, the gardens they cultivate, the rooms they arrange, by gathering news from the edges in such a way that the presence of places and the people who inhabit them tend to emerge. And in these interviews with rooms, my father’s words resonate. I am certain these places reveal something about who we are. I am interested in how places take their shape—why a door has been put just where it has, why a wall is painted a bright canary yellow, why things are the way they are. Eventually, some truth about how we take up space is revealed.

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The Art of Looking

Through my photography, I delight in the discovery of perspective, a new relationship between light and shadow, the dialogue between the man-made and the natural. And if I am lucky, I get a glimpse into the unseen whole. This is how you, too, can pursue the art of looking.

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The Quilt as Art

How quilts have evolved from homely, practical bedcovers to a celebrated art form is an intriguing tale. The skills and traditions of quilt making came to America with African women brought here as slaves. They pieced together quilts for their families’ use from “Negro cloth” (mandated for slave’s clothing), and from the scraps of the garments they sewed for their owners, along with bits of sacking. Tiya Miles, who won the National Book Award for her beautifully researched volume, All That She Carried, notes that enslaved Black women crafted the finer patterned quilts that their owners draped across polished mahogany bedsteads.

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Spirit of the American City

When admiring art, we often imagine standing where the artist once stood. Here we share works by some of our favorite printmakers, ranging from the teeming masses of humanity by Benton Spruance to the lonely solitude of Edward Hopper. Drawn to urban sophistication and glamour, most artists embraced a romantic vision of the city even though their prints were created during the trying times of the Great Depression.

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Embodiment as Source

For half my life I lived to dance — across cities and waters and continents, stages and screens and studios, grassy fields and parking lots, train stations and flea markets, airports and artists’ garrets. It was my way of being in the world…Then, a shifting veil between worlds revealed to me an understanding of the dance as life itself — that the way to understand life in all its mystery is through a knowledge beyond words. This is what movement is for me now: from dance I have learned how to be grounded and to make micro-adjustments to adapt to shifts of the terrain beneath me.

I have learned to move energy in various directions and dimensions, and the internal stirring motion within what is understood as stillness. The pause between the constant rise and fall of breath paralleling the moment of suspension in a wave, then the inevitable push from pause into motion, is life itself.

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The Art of the Flâneur

The qualities of the flâneur are not achieved overnight, if they can ever be today. But if the historical flâneur is missing from the physical streets of Paris, he’s increasingly present in spirit, as a metaphor for the kind of unrushed, intellectually rich and creative life we long for. And we can channel the spirit if we try. Paris showers its special magic on those who submit most fully to its siren call. That’s the mission of today’s flâneur and his contemporary partner, the flâneuse.

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Giving Birth at Home

I awoke on that spring morning in March, nearly forty years ago, in a state of knowing. The mild cramping had started so I crept out of the bed I shared with my husband and went downstairs to run a warm bath. I wanted to bask in the early morning solitude before sharing the news that our baby would arrive today.

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Aging at Home – Then and Now

What’s our history of caring for the sick and dying at home and how do we manage these responsibilities today? How can we make the home a stage set for the last third of life? In this podcast we talk with Peggy Flynn, founder of The Good Death Institute and author of The Caregiving Zone, a radically honest—and indispensable—book about the challenges faced both by caregivers and by everyone who plans to grow old at home.

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The Kitchenless Home

With childcare, cooking, and laundry demanding so much time, the question arises, Aren’t there more efficient ways to design the home? This radical idea was first suggested back in 1888: Science fiction author Edward Bellamy described a utopian community with public kitchens and rapid delivery services for food and laundry. Housework of all kinds was centralized and labor kept to a minimum.

Ten years later, feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman championed a kitchenless home that would give women the leisure to engage in more intellectual pursuits

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