Harn Museum of Art my experience as an art lover

Medium of the Art / Technique of the Artist: The piece pictured below is "Swimming Gator," by American artist Hiram Williams. "Swimming Gator" is a large and looming piece that is displayed with two other characteristically Floridian mixed media paintings by Williams. Two-dimensional photographs truly do not do do the presence of "Swimming Gator" justice. The heavy texture on the head and spine of the gator lift it off of the murky yellow canvas like an alligator gliding ominously. Heavy, waved strokes begin at the head and spread and disseminate like soft ripples of water, mimicking the steady drift of the alligator forward.

"Swimming Gator" (1993) by Hiram Williams

Design of the Museum: The layout of The Harn is somewhat of a paradox, but an effective one. In some ways, the building has open air qualities. Each room has high ceilings with unobtrusively beige, stucco walls and large passageways between exhibits without doors. On the other hand, The Harn is a bit of a maze, one room leading into another, or two others, with no clear path to follow. In this way, an observer can lose himself or herself in the displays, drifting unobstructed from exhibit after exhibit. I also specifically enjoyed the exhibit devoted to recognizing the achievements of female artists. Today, the representation of women on museum walls is sorely lacking and has been heavily criticized by activist groups such as The Guerrilla Girls, who also had an exhibit on display.

photo by: Emma Witmer

Art and Core Values: Earlier this semester, I attended a talk here at UF with "Frida Khalo" of the Guerrilla Girls. The Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous, feminist, artist collective who each don the name of a deceased female artist and fight for equal representation and opportunity for female artists, artists of color and LGBTQ artists. As a female artist and ardent feminist, seeing the social commentary work of the Guerrilla Girls acknowledged, praised and displayed gave me a strong sense of pride and empowerment as I walked through their colorful and thought-provoking exhibit.

Guerrilla Girls display

Art and the Good Life: The mask below was displayed alongside many other ceremonial African masks of various expressions, as well as sizes and medias, in an exhibit called, "Elusive Spirits: African Masquerades." For me, this exhibit harkened back to the celebrating module. In the celebrating module, we discussed how art, music and dance can help us to connect more deeply with our own cultures, and appreciate the beauty of others by uplifting and celebrating their creative works. This mask in particular displays strong emotions of aggression, yet maintains a playful tone. Interacting with this exhibit allowed me to connect with and celebrate the variety of emotion of African cultural art.

"Elusive Spirits: African Masquerades" exhibit


Photos by: Emma Witmer

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