Tour of the Harn By Ciara Tobin

Medium of the Art

Midtown Composite by Yvone Jacquette (1997)

I had never before seen a work of art like the wood carved works of Yvone Jacquette. In a photograph or in a book, it may seem as though this piece was done with white chalk on black paper, when in reality it is thousands of individual etches on wood that comprise this masterpiece. This gives the piece a distinct feeling of depth and complexity. The sheer uniqueness of the work attracted me immediately - wood has been used as a medium for expression for centuries, but this modern take on an archaic art-form is captivating. The urban landscape is depicted on one of mother nature's most vital components, the tree and its wood, providing for an additional ironic sentiment. From far away, it is hard to fully realize the amount of detail. It is hard enough making a work of art without the outline of the main subjects - the skyscrapers, in this case - but when you have to use minuscule carvings to convey scale is something else entirely. Yvone Jacquette, I commend you.

Design of the Museum

The Contemporary Collection

I was particularly attracted to the contemporary collection wing of the museum for a variety of reasons. First, the use of the space was borderline genius. The walls are lined with paintings and other works of art, yet it does not feel cluttered in the slightest. The ceilings are tall and the light colored walls make everything very bright. The sculptures in the center of the room add to the urban feel of the entire wing, and give it some artistic flair. I particularly liked that most of the paintings were done by women, and each had a powerful message. When in this wing, I felt struck by how much art can say without saying anything at all. The space was so wide and so quiet, yet every piece had such a profound message. There are sculptures, paintings, photographs, and even cloth pieces in this wing, yet it all seems harmonious and not disjointed whatsoever. Additionally, there are stairs in the center of the room that are so excellently placed that I did not even notice them upon my first visit. All in all, I believe this room to be a visual masterpiece filled with visual masterpieces. A beautiful room for beautiful art.

Art and Core Values

When racism and sexism are no longer fashionable, how much will your art collection be worth? - Guerrilla Girls (1989)

I thought the pieces in the Guerrilla Girls section to be especially profound, especially the piece pictured above entitled, "When racism and sexism are no longer fashionable, how much will your art collection be worth?" As a feminist, this resonated within me and I began to look at the other pieces in the museum and realized how sexism and racism is portrayed in a romantic way. I also began to realize the major names in art that one might recognize are profoundly of one demographic. I love how this piece calls the viewer out on their ignorance, and proceeds to list names of other talented women of color who are just as, if not more so, the overpriced Caucasian male artists pieces they so often purchase without question. This piece, I'll admit, angered me a little bit as I began to think about the injustice women and minorities still face on a day to day basis. It made me realize that I must continue to fight the good fight and empower other women to do the same.

Art and the Good Life

'Three Girls Holding Hands' by Sebastiao Salgado (1991)

This photo struck me the most of all the photographs depicted in the Harn as it dealt with poverty that is, again, romanticized. These three little girls are the picture of innocence and are wearing pretty dresses, but it is clear that they are dealing with problems beyond their years. Shot in an agricultural community that often migrates during droughts, it shows the viewer that there still exist communities that do not have a place they can consistently call home and struggle with poverty, and that these people are just that - people. The concerned, even scared, looks on their faces and the tight grips on each others' hands shows the importance of friendship and unity during hard times. The most important good life theme that I have come to cherish whilst in this class is that relationships are the foundation of happiness. The love we share with our friends, family, significant others, and even friendly strangers make up the essence of who we are and what is good in the world. Even in a dire situation, these girls have each other, and because of that their feet are planted firmly in the ground. This photograph truly exhibits love in the face of hardship, and because of that it is immensely powerful.

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