Lawn Chairs and Landscape Paintings: Visual Embodiments of Nationalism in the American Domestic Landscape

Open Access
Najjar, Sophia Marie
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Brian Alfred, Thesis Supervisor
  • Angela Renee Rothrock, Honors Advisor
  • art
  • landscape painting
  • nationalism
  • public art
  • installation
  • lawn
  • front yard
  • painting
  • manifest destiny
  • Thomas Cole
  • Hudson River School
Over the course of several months in 2017, I created three wooden chairs, five acrylic paintings and built one gallery to install in an outdoor, public space on University Park campus. Titled Front Yard, the sum of these chairs, paintings, and wall attempted to recreate the space of its namesake. The work 1) prods at the strangeness of the domestic landscape of the lawn as a interstitial place hovering between public and private property, and 2) argues as an American cultural icon, symbol of morality, and site of man vs. nature dichotomy, the front yard offers a potent metaphor and habitat for nationalism. In the following text, I explain the details of the installation, review the relationship between landscape painting and nationalism in the United States, argue for the lawn as the new subject of nationalism in landscape, and reflect on contemporary art dealing in these themes as well as my own work.