Visual Arts

We absorb images as fast as the eye can see, sometimes zipping right past consciousness. Just too much to process too quickly. We may get an impression. A feeling.

Architecture & Home Design

Working class homes can be high density, high productivity. Within those walls people must maximize every inch. Rooms are small and often packed with all the elements of the family’s daily lives – clothes, places to cook, study, repair, do laundry, eat with family, welcome visitors, display important reminders about faith, school, hobbies, etc. – and find privacy. People move through these close quarters never getting very far away from one another. Function and clutter prevail.

Home design starts playing a role in middle class homes. There is more room for people to spread out. You find specialty spaces like a dining room, mudroom, TV or rec room, etc. There is also more space to display art or antiques, making each home a reflection of the family’s uniqueness.

High status homes, where financial constraints are few, reflect the work of high-end architects, designers and artists. Vistas, cathedral ceilings, walls of glass – and floor plans that can rival museums.

Fine Art

A key difference between the classes is the interest and ability to purchase – and even collect – art.

Homes are larger – wall space is abundant – and art is on display. Many of the world’s masterpieces are privately owned, even if they are on display in museums and galleries. Often members of the upper classes have an extensive knowledge of all of the arts and thus serve as benefactors and supporters. Art is an investment, not just in value, but in establishing oneself as an arbiter of good taste. This is reminiscent of the patronage systems of long ago.

For middle class people, fine art is accessible (and sought out) in museums. An appreciation for individual local artists and styles is a way members of this class establish their unique taste and individuality. Often homes will have original work, antiques and pottery displayed in an overall interior design and color scheme. Furniture choices, bedding patterns and table settings all make statements.

Driving through different class neighborhoods you quickly spot the difference in investment. Tree-lined approaches, high walls, seasonal sprays of color show you the high status expectations. Landscaping with shrubs, formal front entrances and lawns suggest middle class. Of course working class people’s housing rarely affords them much, if any, front yard space.