My name is Madison Meltz and I am a Freshman at the University of Florida. On January 24th, I visited the Harn Museum of Art. During my trip, I was immersed in a variety of art styles originating from several different parts of the world. My trip to the Harn Museum of Art broadened my knowledge of art and its importance in different cultures.
Medium of the Art/ Technique of the Artist:
One piece that I found particularly striking in the Harn museum was the sculpture Faunesse Debout (Standing Fauness). The work is a small bronze statue of a women with her arm held out. The piece is particularly interesting due to the shimmery quality of the bronze. This shinny, almost glowing quality of the bronze is in sharp contrast of the position of the statue. When one looks at bronze he or she thinks of weaponry, of chivalry, of bravery, of celebration, and perhaps even of wealth. However, this statue does not exemplify any of these qualities. In fact the piece seems to show the Standing Fauness in a state of weakness. This juxtaposition of emotion and material cannot be done justice through a photograph. This is a work that needs to be seen in person to fully capture its ironic beauty. One must walk around the work. One must see the moving shimmer of the bronze over the despairing woman in order to to fully perceive the glorious contrariness of the piece.
The way the statue's arms are positioned show a state of weakness (i.e. the head is ducked down, the soft part of the wrist and arm is exposed). This weakness is further exemplified by how the bottom of the statue seems to be "melting" into the floor due to the puddle of bronze sculptor Auguste Rodin left underneath the statue. The use of the puddled up bronze in this way helped Rodin to further convey a sense of weakness. The statue appears to be melting away, or attempting to slip into the floor. For me, the piece invoked feelings of loneliness and empathy. On the one hand, I felt sorry for the statue that looked so vulnerable and resigned. On the other hand, I felt a sense of connectedness with the work because I saw the weaker sides of myself in the piece.
Design of the Museum
One wing that I found particularly aesthetically pleasing was the David A. Confirm Asian Art Wing. There were several components of this section of the museum that I found appealing. To begin with, I enjoyed the "grandiose" feeling the entryway gave with its grand arches, large amounts of open space, and natural light behind it. This set up gave the wing an almost spiritual quality, and created a sense of wonder that lured me into the exhibit. Once inside, I enjoyed the openness of the wing. Instead of bits of artwork being crammed together in small rooms or low walls, the gallery is large and gives each piece the appropriate amount of space to be properly viewed. The space is designed as a large set of connecting rooms with symmetric amounts of artwork on each side. The space is neat and organized, the colors of the space are earthy and comforting (i.e. deep browns, golds, maroons) , and the area is very open. The exhibit made me feel at peace; I felt welcome and free to peruse the displayed art at my leisure. This is in sharp contrast to the usual design of museum wings that create displays in cramped spaces that are intimidating and invoke feelings of "stuffiness" and constraint.
Art and Core Values
One of my core values is "self-expression," particularly self expression through music. These two interrelated pieces by Rafael Tufiño, Titorera del mar, Pienas Portfolio and Santa María, Pienas Portfolio, use visual art to capture the beauty of self expression through a different artistic medium- music. As a composer and musician myself, I really connected to these works because they encompass physical beauty of written music and the glory in the ability to express oneself through music. The artworks have an uplifting quality to me. They brings me great joy because they prove that others see the same beauty in scores and instruments that I do. The piece led me to discover how "self-expression" can transcend multiple mediums, and there is a beauty in combining visual art and musical art.
Art and the Good Life
One piece of artwork that represents "Embodying the Good Life" is the statue Vajravarahi. According to the description provided by the Harn Museum on the work: "In Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, Vajravarahi is a female manifestation of Buddha who represents transcendent wisdom." In short, Vajravarahi is the female embodiment of complete enlightenment. By the way she is positioned in a dance, the ornate adornments on her body, and her expression of contentment, it can be assumed this depiction of Vajravarahi shows her in a state of inner peace (possibly Nirvana). This piece adds to my appreciation of "Embodying the Good Life" by displaying how visibly beautiful someone is (or at least an artist's rendition of how beautiful someone is) when they reach a state of complete inner peace. In short, the statue of Vajravarahi's "embodies" a physical representation of what the Good Life is.