Tour of the Harn Sophia A. Castro

Introduction

My friend Glenda and I decided to visit the Harn Museum of Art on January 31st, 2017. Although I have been to several museums throughout the years, the experience I received at the Harn is unparalleled by that of any other. Having to take pictures of myself with the artwork and reflect on which pieces truly spoke to me, allowed me to identify with the art in a transcendent way. In some cases I even found myself intrigued by the lives of particular artists, something I had never gotten the chance to do before. My visit to the Harn has definitely added layers to the way I take in and interpret art, it has instilled in me the idea of finding a little bit of myself in every painting. After today, I feel that I have a newfound appreciation and personal connection to the art I encountered and will encounter in the future...overall an enriching experience.

Picture taken by Glenda Gomero at the Asian Collection exhibit in the Harn Museum.

Medium of the Art

Woman's Wedding Ensemble (asherab nabuak) by Amazigh People. Photo on the left taken by Sophia Castro, photo on the right taken by Glenda Gomero.

There is definitely a distinction between seeing a work of art in person versus seeing a replica or a virtual depiction. This Wedding Ensemble's intricate craftsmanship and vibrant colors can only be adequately appreciated in person. I was able to get close enough to see the carefully stitched design using different colored threads, and the beautifully fabricated ornamental buttons and shells that brought this ensemble to life. Everything from the way the shells reflected the light in the room to becoming lost in the mosaic pattern of the garment, made me feel as though I had traveled back in time to ancient Egypt. Every aspect of this work of art allowed me to envision my version of what an Egyptian wedding must have looked like in the 20th century. I imagined people dancing to vibrant music, the beautiful tan women with charcoal lined eyes, all taking place in a grand city yet somehow managing to stay in touch with nature. At the end of the day what I imagined may be wrong, but the magic lies in the fact that this work of art was able to transport me to a different culture in a distant time period. Had I not seen this work of art in person, I doubt it would have had the same effect on me. The purpose of art is to connect us to the person who created it and the civilization to which it was born, and only in person can this unparalleled phenomenon occur.

Design of the Museum

Photo on the left was taken at the garden in the Harn's Asian Collection exhibit by Glenda Gomero. Photo on the right was taken at the Harn's African Collection exhibit taken by Sophia Castro.

Overall I loved the openness of the museum. Not only does it have an open floor plan, but it also incorporates nature whenever possible. This combination allows for light to flood in and fill every crevice of the museum, bounce off of every wall, and brighten every work of art. If I had to choose a space that I was particularly impressed with, it would have to be the outdoor garden in the Asian Collection exhibit. Not only is it a place to escape and be one with nature, but it also enhanced the exhibit. The sun came in through the window behind the Asian Collection exhibit giving everything in the room a golden hue, it was spectacular and without a doubt wouldn't be the same without this feature. In general, the way the curators and architects decided to give so much emphasis to nature gives the Harn a unique quality. Because even if every work of art does not explicitly depict nature, anything and everything man kind creates comes from nature in one way or another. That is why I am so fond of the profuse green spaces and enormous windows that inhabit the Harn, the museum itself is truly a work of art!

Art and Core Values

Frida on White Bench, New York, 1939

Above all other exhibits and all other paintings, Frida Kahlo has my heart. I identify with this painting on so many levels. Being Mexican myself, I have a strong cultural identification with Frida and what she stood for as a Mexican woman. The painting also evokes a strong sense of pride in my country. I love knowing that of all the artists they could have chosen, they chose not only a woman but a Mexican woman. It is an indescribable feeling knowing that Frida painted in the city I grew up in, she portrayed the vibrant colors of my childhood, the folkloric music of my people, and the history of my ancestors. And not only did she paint it, I get to enjoy her work in a country that is not my own. I have the satisfaction of knowing other people can get a taste of my traditions, customs, and values; the satisfaction of knowing Mexico will be remembered and perhaps even loved by more than just the Mexican people. In addition, this painting definitely relates to one of my favorite core values... self-expression. At the time Mexico City was an island of expression in a sea of moral judgement and oppression. The artists of the time period rebelled against tradition to make Mexico city a mecca for artists, a place where they were free to paint about controversial and sensitive issues and really help make a difference by bringing awareness to the rest of the country. It is this brave step that helped spark the initiative to speak up, and fight for what they believed in. This is not only a core value that I practice and cherish, but it is a core value that I am proud to know my country fomented.

Art and the Good Life

Do Women Have to be Naked to Get Into the Met Museum? Update 2012 Print. AND Guerrila Girls' definition of a hypocrite 1990 Print.

The particular print that caught my attention was "Do Women Have to be Naked to Get Into the Met Museum?". I think this print poses a very concerning point that seems to be often overlooked. I had always though of art as one of the purest forms of self expression. Despite it being a platform to communicate several controversial topics, I did not think it had been marred by societies injustices. This print really brought to my attention the gender bias and sexism that exists in the world of the arts. It is hard to believe that we live in the 21st century and we seem to be taking steps backward rather than forward. I believe this print is absolutely tied to the Good Life as it exposes the theme of gender inequality. This thought provoking piece is urging us as a society to not only appreciate and display the work of female artists, but to improve our portrayal of the female persona. Women have always been so much more than we have been given credit for... But now more than ever women are equal to men in almost every aspect except the way we are treated by them. I think it is safe to say that women have proven time and time again that we can do everything if not more than men can. So why are we still being objectified in art? Why are we still being painted in our most vulnerable state, but never in a position of power? In order to live the Good Life we must begin to value each other for who we are and what we have to offer, instead of whether we pee sitting down or standing up. Once we learn to value each other's differences, and work together as a society then we will be one step closer to reaching the Good Life.

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