This year’s theme takes us back to the 1920s. We have featured artworks inspired by this period in our history. Let us relive those days and see how they influenced our arts and culture.
Life in America in the 1920s was a dramatic period in our history. It is known as the Jazz Age and the roaring twenties which reflect that it was an exciting time in history. The events and developments that transpired during this age represented the effort to break away from the past and move on to the future especially after experiencing World War I. It was also a decade to be known for extreme contradictions. People sought normalcy and conformity but there were also expressions of rebellion and crumbling respect for law and order. There were intense differences in the lifestyle and beliefs of those living in urban and rural areas, of the blacks and whites. There was a discussion about the theory of evolution and divine creation. Each side challenged the other in a quest to hold on to their beliefs.
Just like a roar, the events during the 1920s were heard by many people all over the world. The Jazz Age featured advancements in arts, entertainment, and technology. There was still segregation between the blacks and whites but at least each group learned to show the world their deep appreciation for their culture. But it left us wanting for more. There was an intense clamor for the promotion of women’s rights only to lose steam also in the same period. Each period in our history leaves a mark on our identity as a nation. There were successes and pitfalls during the 1920s. But one thing is for certain. It made our history, arts, and culture richer. It brought us closer to where we are now as a nation.
This year, we have on exhibit photos, clothes, mementos, and other memorabilia from the Roaring Twenties. It is our hope that the present generation can learn from our nation’s rich history and gain a deeper appreciation for our arts and culture.
During the 1920s, the United States admitted millions of immigrants from Europe. This sparked the rise of the second Ku Klux Klan which was a movement composed of men and women that expressed racist, nativist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic attitudes towards the immigrants. Members of the movement appealed for stricter immigration policies and were hostile and even violent towards the immigrants. However, this was only a fleeting period as there were laws that prohibited supporters to wear masks and challenged them to reveal their identities. The Jazz Age was represented by the female flapper look of short hair and short skirts and characterized by endless partying and permissiveness. This period also experienced alcohol prohibition as part of social reform. This imposed limitation was supposed to curb the behavior of unruly immigrants and citizens but instead led to crimes of smuggling and illegal importation to get hold of alcohol. This time in history liberated women and pushed for women’s rights. Technological innovations paved the way for labor-saving devices that would supposedly help women in their household chores but in reality, increased their workload as standards of domestic work were leveled up. Henry Ford introduced mass production of automobiles and standardization of working hours. He gave women and African Americans opportunities to work and receive equal wages so that they could afford to buy what they wanted. In political affairs, women and African Americans were given opportunities for political participation through voting.
In the Jazz Age, modernity meant advancements in the land and air. The automobile industry encouraged other businesses to flourish and infrastructure to develop. There was a boom in the consumer economy aided by the establishment of advertising. Aircraft technology allowed efficient travel from one region to another which was previously inconceivable. Even people’s attitudes were modernized as they became more permissive and pushed social and cultural boundaries. This was further influenced by movies as they featured liberal lifestyles, carefree living, and sexual themes. Radio however also proved to be a valuable tool in promoting nationalization and homogenization. In literature, writers of the lost generation expressed their disillusionment and despair and tried to escape reality through their works.
The Roaring Twenties was a dramatic and colorful part of our history. And we can see that we owe so much of what we have now to that time.
The Old Chatham County Courthouse follows the Beaux Arts style of architecture. This was in vogue when the courthouse was designed and constructed. It was commonly used for public and institutional buildings. This early modern style of architecture reflected the artists’ grand and progressive outlook. One will immediately notice the intricate designs and details on the walls and ceiling of the building which truly reflected the beaux-arts style that left little area unornamented. The classical appearance and elaborate structure of this architectural design were vividly expressed using limestone. The courthouse features a dome with a fish weathervane at the top. The symbolism held by the fish is subject to speculations but one popular notion is that it symbolized Christianity. Classic mural paintings can be seen on different sides of the dome which show the important roles of education, justice, agriculture and stone industry to the county. There are also roman scrolled columns inside the courthouse. The wooden doors also have detailed carvings on them. There are also sculptures around the building. In this particular painting, there is a big tree that covers the view of the entire building on the left side. On the right side is another tree that completes the frame of the picture. It looks like it offers just a peek of the imposing courthouse. It seems that the scenery was taken on a bright sunny day based on the lighting and shadows used. A clear blue sky provided the background at the upper portion of the painting. The sky, trees, and other plants create an inviting look to the viewers. It is refreshing and invigorating to see. Four cars are parked in front of the building but there is a space at the middle of the parking area. It gives the impression that it is another busy day at work in the courthouse but they are never too busy not to accommodate you. The USA flag is displayed prominently on top of the building which is another symbol of freedom, liberty, and justice. Being the seat of power, the flag in the courthouse signifies the respect, pride, and commitment of the people to the principles upheld by the American nation to serve its people.