The Harn Museum of Art Mughil Sriramvenugopal


Art is the result of a connection between an artist and an audience. Where better to find art, than a museum of art? The Harn Museum of Art provides the fantastic opportunity to experience art created by brilliant artists worldwide. I personally would recommend a visit to the Museum to as many other people. It was undoubtedly an enthralling experience.

Medium of the Art / Technique of the Artist

Male Royal Ancestor Mask (Bwoom). 1939. Wood, copper, raffia, beads, cowries.

When I saw the mask (pictured above), I was immediately intrigued. It does not have any bright colors or intricate patterns, and is unlike any mask I had ever seen. I find that when it comes to certain types of art, the chosen medium most likely has a reason. In the case of this mask, wood, copper, beads, and the cowrie are all resources that are available and have meaning to the Kuba people. In regards to the significance of the mask to their culture, it represents 'all common people'. Thus, it creates a sense of community and unity. Unfortunately, I am confident that had I not seen the mask in person, I would barely have paid any attention to it or its significance.

Design of the Museum

Photo taken by Mughil Sriram

The exhibit pictured above holds ceramics from around the world. I found it particularly appealing because of the way in which the art was arranged around the room by region. I was able to trace the origin of each piece of work as I circled the room in which the exhibit was displayed. There were three different trails of exchange starting from China to Europe. It was amazing to compare and contrast the pieces across the room that were from opposite ends of the earth. Overall, the exhibit makes me feel content to know that while art may differ in style and meaning, it is still a universal tool. I honestly believe the clever organization of the ceramics was the largest reason why it appealed to me because it created a sense of mixed culture and artistic community.

Art and Core Values

Gwathmey, Robert. The Woodcutter. 1945. Oil on canvas.

In The Woodcutter(pictured above), a man and his son (I interpreted the man on the left to be the farmer's son) are pictured chopping wood. While I realize the underlying message of painting is in actuality directed towards social and racial inequality, I happened to interpret this piece of art a little differently. I interpreted the painting to be a family hard at work (chopping wood is physically daunting work), and so drew an immediate connection to my core value that pertains to the importance of family. The painting reminds me of the work and effort my parents and I put forth in order to immigrate here to America. It makes me feel even more grateful for the life my parents worked hard to build. It reminds me how we worked together through the good and the rough times to get to where we are today. It reinforces the importance of family to my life.

Art and the Good Life

Kurland, Justine. Sheep Wranglers. 2001. Satin finish UV laminated C-print.

I think a certain theme that is reoccurring in the Good Life is the importance of living in the now. I think people often get swept away with their involvement in many activities, navigating drama, and planning for the future and often forget to take a moment to just enjoy existing. I found the Sheep Wranglers (pictured above) to capture this notion of living in the present. The girls in the photograph are blissfully spending a lovely, sunny evening with their friends in a peaceful pasture, away from the stress and the pressures of the world. I think this art piece reminds me that I too should take some moments to just enjoy being here, to just enjoy existing instead of continuously stressing about the past and the future.

Bonus: Picture with One of My Favorite Artists

Cunningham, Imogen. Frida Kahlo Rivera, painter and wife of Diego Rivera. 1931. Platinum palladium print.

All photos featured in this Spark story were taken by Mughil Sriramvenugopal

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