A Trip to the Harn By Uma Kumar

What is a typical setting of a museum? A cold room with a bunch of entries? Well that is what I thought before I went to the Harn. Contradictory to my expectations, there was a section outside almost a like a garden. I love places with greenery and waterfalls; it brings me calmness. There was natural lighting that was different from the rest of the artworks. This piece of ‘artwork’ was one of the most relatable because it is something I would want to see if I went on the walk. Standing on the tiny boardwalk made me feel like I am in the middle of a beautiful scenery. I was so in love that my friends had to pull me out so we can see the next wing.

Nature in the middle of the museum.

Throughout the Harn, each piece of artwork had something special about itself. There were so many different materials used. Some were painted others sculpted or carved. One artwork that caught my eye was the "Okakagbe Masquerade Performance". It was not through a usual medium one would expect; it was a video. Watching the video, I was able to clearly imagine almost live through a native performance of the Okakagbe people. Films are common but even in 2003, the artist felt that the culture of the people is important to document. It makes me realize that there is a significance to every culture. One more thing, everyone is used to viewing videos on their laptop, TV, or a big white screen, but this is the first time I watched a video that was projected on a mirror. It gave a completely different feel; I felt like everything was magnified and gave me a new perspective to look at it.

Watching the Okakagbe Masquerade Performance

Art is very personal because it depends on someone’s perspective. One artwork might not have the same meaning and value it did to someone else. This has to do to with the values one grew up with. While in the Harn I was surprised to see a section on Asian specifically south Asian artwork. Being an Indian Hindu the sculptures of “Uma-Mahesvara” and “Dancing Ganesh” was something that appealed to me. And do not know think it is just because it has my name, Uma, in it! The sculpture actually describes the origination of my name. The name belongs to a Hindu goddess and wife of Shiva (another god). Together they both symbolize the creative power of the universe and fullness of the supreme being. Seeing the artwork reminded me of who I am and where I came from. Dancing Ganesh really appealed to me because it incorporates two of my favorite things: my favorite god and dance. As a child, I grew fond of the god Ganesh after hearing the story of he received his head. Till this day I do not know if that is the reason I like elephants. Then dance, it has always been an outlet for me to release emotions. I love watching just as much as I enjoy learning and performing. Dance brings me joy since it was one of the initial ways that I met my friends, so it will always stay close to me. Seeing these two pieces I felt more connected than ever.

My values as sculptures.

Museums usually have pieces prior to the time I was born making it a little difficult to relate. The post-modern section of the Harn changed this perspective. The “Guerrilla Girls “section was one of my favorite. It was a progressive movement that increased the inner feminist in me. Some artwork even had statistics on them that expressed how women were looked down upon and taken advantage of. “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?” made me realize the struggle female artists went through and still go through. Stepping over society’s boundaries was common for these artists since it was the only way for them to show their talent. It made me realize to reach what I consider ‘the good life’ I will have to learn to rise above the society’s restrictions and expectations. Because I do not feel like myself following unsaid and unwritten expectations of the corrupt society. To be at peace with the good life I need to find myself which is definitely not within society’s limits.

"Less than 4% of the artists in the Modern Art Society are women, but 76% of the nudes are female."

Going to through the different artworks and inferring the story behind it invoked many thoughts. For all of you have not been to the Harn, it is a must go!

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