My Harn Museum Experience By Gabriel Dumea

Medium of the art/technique of the artist: One piece of artwork that I found particularly interesting and enjoyed was the wide print from the Arthur Ross Foundation and the Yale University Art Gallery. This print was part of a 200-object exhibition and captured Greco-Roman elements of civilization and society. What I found captivating and what drew me to this exhibit was the dramatic 3D astonishing effect that the objects within the print seemed to have. From the wide columns that seemed to be in ruin, to the old buildings and large statues that had a shadowy effect with light illuminating down, making the statues the focal point of the work. Surrounding the statues, I noticed how small the other people, surrounding horse carriages and even buildings were compared to the godlike center presence of the statues. It seemed as if only the gods themselves had the capacity to create such a detailed, handcrafted piece of art that even scaled higher and wider in dimension than the buildings themselves. Not even the picture I took could capture the dramatic effects that the print had, from all angles. You must see it in person, the scale of the print and the objects in the print and how they scale to one another to really appreciate the breathtaking in-your-face nature of the work. The technique the artist used to scale the various objects, buildings, focal point of the print (the statues in the center) as well as other various objects while playing with shadow and light really brought out a dramatic effect in the print. The emotion it brought out in me is almost impossible to recall because it was so dramatic. It was more of a mixture of anxiety and sadness. I feel as if this work is meant to portray how society ceases to make progress even as we become more technologically advanced, we still regress in other sectors of life. The illusion of progress is represented by the insignificance in size and scope of the modern buildings, horses and carriages and other surrounding new technological inventions for the time that would not have been present in ancient Greece and Rome. People are living among technological marvels greater in size and significance than anything they could muster, and yet they seem ignorant to the past and overly optimistic about the future, while completely ignoring the ruins that are greater than anything they’ve come up with or have even been able to recreate.

Me with the print, notice the dramatic effects that the statues exude.

Design of the museum: I really enjoyed the Africa section of the museum. The way the entire exhibit is brightly lit, organized, and cut off into separate sections for each part of African culture chronologically affects my thought pattern subliminally when going through all the artwork. It allows for easy and smooth transition between one piece of art to another, while still reserving the shock value and emotional impact intended to maximize each piece of art. The way most of the exhibits are grouped together in sections, while different sections are spread out, allows that section of art and its individual pieces to absorb your attention at that moment in time, and appeal to all of your emotions and evoke different types of emotion for each individual piece of art in the section. As you transition from one section to another, you still reserve the intended shock value and emotional effect of transitioning from one piece of art to another, while also preserving attention and the ability to absorb the art and its related works in each section individually. In short, the exhibit is highly efficient, with efficiently placed artwork for a purpose, maximal enjoyment from its audience. The organizers of this wing of the exhibit know how to maximize emotional response from the enjoying audience (museum visitors).

Me, enjoying the African wing of the museum despite my straight face

Art and core values: I chose the Face Mask (okoroshi ojo) exhibit in the African wing of the museum, used by the Igbo people of Nigeria to embody male power and all of the “wild” and “uncivilized” behavior that comes along with it. Despite how the masks and outfits are actually described in the exhibit, the mask and outfit in the photo provided a stark contrast that allowed me to feel and sympathize with what I believe, and what my core values are. I personally believe in being as honest of a person as you possibly can be, without putting on a façade or wearing a mask and making people think you’re someone else. Unfortunately, since most put up a façade and wear a mask, most people think you’re wearing a mask and outfit of purity (hence the pure white outfit and robes appealing to me) and not actually who you are and how you describe because they themselves are already so impure, as they lie, cheat, and steal on a daily basis and it has become such a normal activity that anything that contrasts their lifestyle must not exist in their minds. This artwork allows me to cherish my purity, the fact that I keep moral standards and hold myself to them in a world of temptation and impurity, and the fact that I hold myself to a moral standard that very few choose to uphold, makes me feel like I’m carrying a lit torch in a world of darkness. It gives me hope that others feel the same, that maybe the photographer that captured the photo was trying to exemplify the same emotions when capturing the moment.

Me, observing the elements captured in the Igbo Mask photo in the African wing of the museum

Art and the Good life: For this portion of the assignment, I chose the City Blocks exhibit by Bertram Hartman as what I believe exudes what it means to live the Good Life. Hartman’s original intent was to underscore American architecture and believed that our architectural achievements were comparable to that of ancient civilizations. I believe that this painting appeals to the theme of prosperity evident in the Good Life, from having a nice house with a picket fence or an expensive NYC penthouse, prosperity to a degree is evident in everyone’s good life, and in all different ways. His dramatization of city living, with 3D high rises popping out from all directions on a city landscape dramatizes the ideal living situation of someone with the true good life, and what all people really want to accomplish in the good life, a sense of prosperity. This painting allows me to appreciate the universality of the good life, that even though the good life of different individual people may vary, there is still a constancy of what people consider to be a good life. All people want to be happy, and happiness requires a certain varying level of prosperity, but this painting evoking prosperity through the use of mighty tall and glorious looking city buildings and subsequent city landscape allows for the sympathetic effect of symbolic prosperity among all who view it.

Me, despite my straight face I keep in all photos, still enjoying the exhibits, especially this painting of City Blocks.

All photos were taken at the Harn Museum, by myself, with my flash off (just to note).



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