Good Life: Touring the Harn Museum by Caroline Pope
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.
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.