About

Patterns of Place is a research project examining man-made and naturally created patterns and motifs in Virginia to expose the ways in which these often understudied forms convey meaning and have an ideological impact.

core research team

Dr Sara Reed – art historian, Assistant Professor VCU Interior Design

Emily Smith – interior designer, Assistant Professor VCU Interior Design

project summary Project participants have been asked to identify and document patterns in the built and natural environments of Virginia’s 3 major regions РCoastal Plains (East of the Fall Line), Piedmont (West of the Fall Line to the foothills of the mountains), and Mountains (includes Blue Ridge, Valley, and Appalachian Plateau). Documentation includes digital photography, hand-drawings, watercolors, and/or words via a project template. (Participants can suggest alternative documentation methods.) The objective is to create a catalog of naturally-created and man-made patterns that exist in these regions. Some are familiar; others less so. This catalog and its associated research will more deeply connect us to the history, culture, crafts, and people of Virginia. These patterns represent ecosystems, methods of construction, internal and external migrations, religious beliefs, and political systems. They can help us better understand the material and natural resources, community structures, and personal and societal values.

Dr. Sara Reed and Emily Smith, assistant professors with VCU Interior Design, received a 2018 VCUarts Exploratory Research Grant that is funding their current work, Patterns of Place. In examining man-made and naturally created patterns and motifs in Virginia, their research exposes the ways in which these often-understudied forms convey meaning and ideology. By studying these regional, vernacular patterns, they are developing a catalog of existing regional patterns and a methodology of study to examine patterns around the globe.

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