The Art of the Fence

Sometimes when sifting through older photos, drawings, and even crafts created as a child my mind drifts into memories they reflect.

I grew up in a small town in Colorado and my best friend’s family lived in the country. There we would climb split rail fences in favor of whatever was on the other side. Since then I’ve spent significant time at horse barns and often need to fit between or over wooden boards. To get to research sites for a wildlife research project in college my classmates and I had to navigate more than one barbed wire fence (a good way to break in a pair of jeans).

Skull Fence
Common among rural fences are dogs and cattle–in this case a dog brought home the remains of a cow.
Sepia Fence
Apparently I posted this image with another blog post, but that only exemplifies of what I love in a photo: simple geometry, contrast, and nature.

Fences are the epitome of simplicity. A few horizontal lines and the occasional vertical line. A young child can draw them. They make for good photographic contrast. The simplicity of the geometry echoes of a romantic country lifestyle. Fences are fun to climb on, get a new outlook on familiar land and, in a more imaginative scenario, an escape from danger. Not to mention humans tend to favor divisions such as claiming the giant box between a certain four fences as only theirs.  Privacy on one side and exploration on the other.

Peer through one fence to see the other.
Jumping Fence
Fences can be fun not just for climbing on but to take a horse over. Without the tacky bright colors of vinyl stadium fencing, a jump can become a part of the scenery.

Fences also share the land owner’s story. This woman chose old tanks to individualize the fence. Practical. Much like a friend who grew up taking discarded couches on the side of the road and then set them in the pasture as a jump. Tacky, but it worked.

Sun on Fence
The joke with old western movies is the cowboy rides into the sunset. However, evening sun glinting off fences and gates are equally iconic.
Oklahoma Fence
No Man’s Land e.g. the Oklahoma panhandle, where often times the fence is the only human creation visible beyond the road.

Fences symbolize the countryside. They provide—preferably—a safe enclosure for domestic animals, add a decorative touch to a property, and establish borders between someone’s land and no one’s land or everyone’s land depending on your philosophical leanings.

An emblem of my high school fine arts requirement, somehow this graphite drawing is the only artwork to survive the passage of time. But I promise, I had many sketches of country landscapes featuring fences.

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