Good Life: Touring the Harn Museum by Caroline Pope

Old Man's Cloth by El Anatsui
me with the contemporary work of art "Old Man's Cloth" comprised of waste such as aluminum & bottle caps

Medium of the Art/Technique of the Artist

In theGalleria I got the opportunity to witness El Anatsui's art sculpture-of-sorts entitled Old Man's Cloth. This "cloth" was very unique in that it was made from an especially unusual medium; El Anatsui was very resourceful in crafting this piece of art. He created this "metallic tapestry" from an assortment of bottle caps from liquor bottles. Some of these caps were flattened into strips and resembled royal and ceremonial strip-cloth known as kente. Some caps were left in their original form. I enjoyed this medium in particular because it created a tangible feeling. If I had just looked at a smooth tapestry I wouldn't get the same vibes that I originally felt. Upon my first glance at it, the sculpture looked like a giant tapestry that was not overtly-majestic but rather the majesty of it was hidden in its obvious ruggedness. It looked worn from excessive use. It looked like a weathered blanket. It truly lived up to its name of being an "old man's cloth" because old men are typically well-traveled and wise and have experienced much and are modest as is this cloth. This cloth is not made of silver or gold; it is made of scraps of metal. It is made of trash...and that is what I find most admirable about El Anatsui's piece of artwork. He takes ordinary objects - arguably waste - and creates something beautiful. He not only does this, but he also creates with the trash an art piece that exemplifies virtues while simultaneously manipulating the norms of traditional art. El Anatsui also ensures that when the viewer sees this piece, he or she will increase their spatial awareness due to his technique of creating a metallic fabric with dimension and depth.

Cofrin Asian Art Wing

Design of the Museum

One of the things I really enjoyed about the Harn museum was the design and layout of the Asian art exhibit. The cell phone audio tour pointed out to become spatially aware as you enter the room, to smell the wood and to see the sunshine pour out from the windows and touch every corner of the room. I immediately felt connected to the art exhibits when I allowed myself to experience the spatial layout as well as the minor details surrounding the art such as the wood, the sun, the pillars, the glass containers, the wide room, etc. I enjoyed the outdoor gardens because including greenery and water adds character to any art exhibit. It brings in the earth's elements such as sun and allows the viewer to contextualize the emotions they feel as they observe both art and nature. I also enjoyed that the room was wide and open; it allowed for exploration and it allowed your mind to wander as you think about the artwork. Additionally I loved the way the columns took up space within the room; the way the pillars were spaced out over the room allowed for you to subconsciously gravitate toward those exhibits near the pillars which were most likely the culturally significant artworks. The columns and pillars provided literal structural support as well as a metaphor for the importance of those pieces of art. Also, the fact that these pillars were glass and encased the art inside the pillar demonstrated how transparent they were about sharing these culturally significant artworks.

George Grosz - Manhattan - Modern Collection

Art & Core Values

George Grosz's painting Manhattan depicts a diversity of sentiments. Some of the emotions it raises in the viewer include sorrow, fear, and pain. I like to think that I am empathetic as a human being capable of experiencing a range of feelings, but by viewing this painting I gained new insight into these sentiments of fear, pain, and sorrow. I knew these emotions were negative, but the painting draws these feelings out of the average empathic person and then intensifies the feelings. The dark colors, sharp shapes, and contrast between the top of the painting versus the bottom really create an inner state of distress that is difficult to resolve, and the subject of the painting - World War II - piques the emotional sensitivity of the viewer even more. I am honestly surprised at Grosz's ability to evoke such sadness and anger out of viewers such as myself. It must be a tough feat but by depicting these values it allows me to learn more about these core values. As a human being in today's society I believe fear, sorrow, and pain are integral parts of life and we, as individuals and as members of society, must learn to cope with these sentiments. If we do not learn how to handle the bad then we cannot possibly appreciate the good in life. By teaching ourselves how to accept these negative feelings as core inevitable values, appreciating the good in life becomes much more crucial, and we thus learn how to truly appreciate the fact the good rather than take it for granted.

Sebastiao Salgado - Cast of Thousands - Brazil

Art & the Good Life

Sebastiao Salgado's photography, such as his photographic work entitled Cast of Thousands, evokes emotions of sorrow, fear, and pain as well. I sympathized with the slaves in the photo because they were not treated with dignity. Their labor was being taken advantage of and they were forced to complete this labor. Additionally they were not even given good conditions. Observe in the photo (or even just the mere title) how thousands upon thousands of slave laborers were piled together to work physically in Brazil. I feel for these souls and, although I cannot relate in their struggles, Salgado's work really captures the essence of their said struggles. It makes me want to fight for the good life of not just myself but of all peoples. I find that by viewing this photograph I have gained knowledge regarding the human experience and, through it, acquired wisdom.

Created By
Caroline Pope


taken by myself on my iPhone

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