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Cabin art

We've always thought that writers' cabins must be pretty inspiring places. Some of our greatest literary works, after all, have been created in the tiniest of wooden shacks. But here's a different kind of inspiration we didn't anticipate – a writers' cabin installation created by artist Mark Moskovitz.

Winner of the 2005 Daimler Chrysler Emerging Artist Award for this 'Writer's Cabin', Moskovitz was influenced by famous writers to build his own retreat. 'The piece is inspired by the Godfathers of masculine literature I grew up on,' says Moskovitz, 'Henry David Thoreau, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Edward Abbey, and others like Edgar Allen Poe who could craft a mood and tone as well as he could a story. I was also influenced by Van Gogh’s bedroom paintings in Arles and how he hoped to convey the feeling of serenity provided by being in the room.'

He filled it with objects for 'deliberate living' (drawing on Thoreau's words 'I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately'). 'Each artifact addresses personal needs,' he explains, 'with an eye on historic design, and always, observation.' These include a sign on the door saying, 'Out chopping wood. Please come in', a vintage typewriter (naturally), kitchen utensils and a pair of worn-out work boots.

Moskovitz likes the notion of the solitary writer's life. 'I love writing,' he says, 'and although I have too much energy to put in the requisite long days sitting in a chair, I always wanted to build a writer’s cabin. The main irony is that I never built this while living in a rural setting in Northern Vermont which I did for three years, but only once I moved to the Detroit suburbs.

'The piece was erected in my driveway,' he adds, 'then disassembled to go into the Cranbrook Art Museum. It was disassembled again and sent to Berlin for an exhibit and now it has the more humble but still ironic footprint of my backyard in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. My children use it as a play house and I'm quite happy that it had a life in the art world and now it can decay in a setting with less pomp and get used. It's become a nice outlet for my daughters' imagination.'

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