The Good Life at The Harn P. Adrian Dodson

Step 1: Medium/ Technique of the Artist

Nancy Graves (1994), Bronze with Patina and Glass

Many artists try to evoke a certain emotion or persuade an audience with their art, in order to voice a particular opinion they may have about a certain subject. I noticed this quite often throughout many of the works on display at The Harn Museum. However, one in particular that stood out was Nancy Grave's sculpture "Bronze with Patina and Glass" (1994). It is a sculpture that must be seen in person in order to fully understand and appreciate the meaning behind it. It is on display in the exhibit "Intra-action: Women Artists from the Harn Collection" (which included Guerrilla Girls). What I found so symbolic about this piece was Grave's ability to tie together so many ranging themes from music with musical notes, appreciation of the female body with a pelvic bone, to the dead with skulls from deceased animals. For instance, the shell of a dead horseshoe crab represented "The origin of life on earth", in addition to the bones of dead animals and humans which portrayed a negative connotation of death. But these subtle tones of negativity were contrasted positively with things such as bright colors and the musical notes which are often associated with something beautiful and lively such as listening to music. I thought it was very interesting how she was able to contrast two very distinct stages of life (life and death) and tie them together in a way that made death seem less scary and more of a stage that everyone undergoes. I was able to see it from a perspective that was distinct and just a beautiful thing that will occur in everyone's life. All of these random objects were brought together to form a sculpture that touched on so many topics that could relate to the majority of any audience and yet it looked so clean, as if it all belonged fused together.

Step 2: Design of the Museum

Entrance to the Asian Collection looking out to the Garden

The Harn you can tell is quite distinct from other museums. What I found interesting about the design was that I personally found it to be a work of art in itself. Engineers whom worked on and helped to construct the Harn you could tell wanted visitors to not only take in the beauty evoked by the art on display but also the beauty from the building itself which only helped emphasize the beauty of some of the works on display. An area I found particularly striking was the entrance to the Asian Collection. The way in which they had the two sculptures laid across the ground in a way that didn't look organized or concrete, but more random and creative in front of the tall, yet large windows overlooking the garden was breathtaking. They were not only able to draw upon the beauty from the works on display inside, but also tie in the lavish greens and colors from the outside into the exhibit which I found quite interesting.

Step 3: Art and Core Values

Buddhist Plaque (1738), Asian Collection - Apart of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910)

Many artists do try to evoke a certain emotion from their audience, because they know that many may or may not agree with them. One art piece that in particular caught my attention and made me a bit upset due to the negative connotation associated with the symbol engraved on it, was this sculpture from the Joseon Dynasty (1798). Even though it was created long before WWII and before the fascist movement I was intrigued because it was a piece that came from Asia not Europe, and it had the Nazi Symbol engraved into it. Hate has been around since the beginning of human kind. However, one of my core values is acceptance. When I think of acceptance I automatically think of things such as the holocaust, and the LGBT community. So, when I saw this piece I was amazed yet disappointed that hate for the jewish community existed for such a long time before WWII and in other cultures. In this case it was in the asian collection so parts of Asia were I'm assuming not accepting of the jewish community. Acceptance is something that defines a person as they mature. As a society and in order to live what I believe is the good life one must be open-minded and accepting of others no matter their race, religion, culture or sexual orientation.

Step 4: art and the good life

Justine Kurland "Sheep Wranglers" (2001)

This piece is a great representation of the good life. It ties in nature with children and everyone at peace in what seems to be a stress free environment. What I find interesting about this piece is that all of the children are girls. It is a statement about women and how women in the case of the painting are capable of maintaining roles that men would be considered "better fit" to take on. In this case sheep herding. I believe this is a great representation of the good life in which women can live at ease and in harmony with men, and they will not be scrutinized, belittled, or stereotyped as the weaker sex. But instead supported and entrusted with whatever they may encounter.


Photos taken by Paul of artwork displayed at The Harn Museum of Art at The University of Florida.

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