Homestead + History
Homesteading is a way of life and a way of thinking in which many people take pride. I saw a need for authentic and thoughtful representation of that pride through artwork. I often choose to honor the rich history of homesteading practices by incorporating elements of art history that connect us with its ancient roots. In fact, there are several works in my collection that are directly based on real cultural artifacts from throughout history. Themes of homesteading have been ennobled and honored through artwork from ancient sculpture to epic pastoral paintings of the 19th Century. My goal is to create art and designs that both acknowledge that rich heritage and embody the personality, aspirations, and quirks of modern homesteaders who continue that legacy in their own unique ways today.
The word "homesteading" will mean something a bit different to almost everyone. Generally, in its most basic form, it's about using your own two hands and the environment in which you live to produce something you need or want through your own efforts and guile. Traditionally, the homestead provided for one's life-sustaining needs through farming and home handicrafts. Today, that definition has been broadened and seasoned with artistry, style, and the trendiness of D.I.Y. culture. It's a word that is bandied about so freely that a remarkable thing has happened to it: it has transcended the specific origin of its definition to become an idealized style of living that everyone can participate in on any scale. Today, it's a less a matter of practical application drawn from need and more an aspect of personal identity; a philosophical lifestyle club of which we can all be card carrying members. I think this is a beautiful development as it's made the world of homesteading more accessible to people who live in regulated suburbs or urban centers where traditional homestead environments simply can't be duplicated. Whether you grow and preserve your own crops, knit your own socks, or just enjoy reading about self-sufficiency, you are connected through each thread of interest to one of the most passionate and generous networks of people in the world: homesteaders.
Not only do these threads connect us in this modern "moment" that homesteading is having; they connect us through time, through the very fabric of the human experience on earth. One of the things that makes homesteading culture so appealing is knowing that your ancestors of fifty, one hundred, and a thousand years ago were doing many of the same things, and often in fundamentally the same ways. Fulfilling your own needs, raising your own food, making things from scratch is a simultaneously tactile and spiritual bridge to the past that gives many people a greater sense of meaning in the homesteading activities they pursue.
As an artist, I already had a proclivity for making things from scratch. By the time I realized I was also a homesteader, I was already knee deep in vegetable gardens, jars of preserves, bread baking, and knitted sweaters. As anyone involved in self-sufficiency culture will tell you, once you start, you just can't stop. It wasn't long before I also had a flock of chickens, far too many kombucha SCOBYs, and a dairy cow-share for making yogurt. Such was life until 2013 when my husband and I moved across the country to a tiny urban apartment in Oakland, California. These days, I've swapped my chickens and garden for the practice of making art about them. I hope you'll enjoy browsing through my creations and find something that speaks to the homesteader in you.
Joanna West Moser
Artist and Creator