Life and Culture in Art HArn Museum

Medium of the Art

Anatsui, El. Old Man's Cloth. 2003. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville.

This giant sculpture by El Anatsui is made of metallic tapestry, bottle tops, cloth, and copper wire. Each medium is a physical representation of the colonial history and Asante and Ewe peoples of Ghana and Togo.

When I viewed this piece via online, I did not grasp the magnitude and three dimensional aspect of this piece. When I visited the Harn to see this sculpture in person, I was able to see the fine details of the woven materials and the grandeur of the artwork.

The woven metallic tapestry, bottle tops, and cloth illustrates unique and intertwined history of Ghana and Togo. The metallic tapestry and bottle tops comes from brand-name bottles introduced by the colonists. In history, the colonists usually did not show respect for the indigenous people and mistreated them. This sculpture, however, demonstrates that these embarrassing, regretful, and painful period of time counts as part of history and makes up the culture. For instance, the mass genocide that occurred in World War II, is one of the notorious example of horrible event in the history. At that time, Germans were not aware of the reality in concentration camps. After they found out about the truth, however, they expressed deep sorrow and grievance for the neglect. Now, it is embedded as part of the German history and culture. Many people from all parts of the world visit Auschwitz to remember and commiserate with the prisoners.

Unlike the Germans, there are many countries who refused to apologize for the behavior of their ancestors. For example, after the Korean War, Japan dethroned the ruler of Korea, banned the use of the Korean language and mistreated the local people. Even to this day, the Japanese officials has not shown remorse and has not educated their own people of the fault. As a citizen of South Korea, I want to deliver this message to Japanese: Don't be like the Nazis, be like the today's Germans.

Design of the Museum

My favorite exhibition of the museum was the modern collection. Because I am more familiar with modern history, I felt more connected and passionate to the historical background of the paintings. In this exhibition, I felt as if I traveled in time as I weaved in-and-out around the corners of the building blocks.

Also, I enjoyed the scenery of the gardens found in every corner of exhibition. Not only each garden signaled the change in theme of the exhibitions but they also served as a pivotal point to exhale and appreciate the nature that grew in time like the movement of art in history.

Art and Core Values

Peaches. Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), 18th century. China. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville.

In the Asian Art Wing, I found these beautiful sculptures from China. In China, jade fruits represents long life and prosperity in wealth and familial affairs. The pomegranate and peanut symbolizes wishes for offspring. The peach symbolizes hope for long life and affluence. The "Buddha hand" citron fruit illustrates the presence of religion in the nature.

Looking at this collection reminded me of the important values in my life: my family, socioeconomic status, and Christianity. When I become older, I would like to have my own husband and children, to maintain wealth, and to serve the community under His glory.

Tufiño, Rafael. Coffee Portfolio. 1954. New York City. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville.

The Coffee Portfolio depicts daily life of the coffee makers. First, they make arable land to farm coffee beans. Next, they collect coffee beans. Then, they grind coffee. Finally, they join the community to celebrate and appreciate the hard work.

The four paintings reflected my current lifestyle both literally and figuratively. As a barista at Starbucks, I feel very tedious and exhausted when I serve coffee to people. At the end of my shift, I feel relief from achieving my duty. As a student at the University of Florida, I consistently work to complete homework assignments and study for exams throughout the week. I, however, always set Saturdays to to re-gain my energy level by spending time with friends, exercising, and having quiet times. The four pieces tells a story in which conveys this message: it is important to have time for school work as well as for myself.

Art and the Good Life

Salgado, Sebastião. First Communion in Juazeiro do Norte, Brazil. 1981. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville.

This three young girls shown in the image are from northeastern Brazil. When Salgado took this photo, the war led numerous children to be abandoned and separated from their parents. Despite their situation, the children in the city displayed energy and cheerfulness which amazed Salgado.

The exuberance of children exemplifies the theme, seeking. Even in times of suffering, they remain positive and celebrate life. They avoid the reality by looking for the tiniest delight as the prisoners did in Man's Search for Meaning. Based on Frankl's theory, the reason to live bears strength to endure the extreme levels of hardship. The children actively sought for the reason to live, which allowed them to become resilient to the aftermath of the war.

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