What is the Good Life? My Journey at the Harn museum of art

During my trip to the Harn Museum, I gained a better insight into the meaning of the Good Life through our analysis of artwork. I learned that art is much more than just an indulgence on the aesthetic appearance of a work. By taking the time to think more deeply about why a work of art was created, the history behind it, and the message that the author is trying to portray through it, you will have a better understanding of the Good Life.

The Uma-Mahesvara was a sculpture that immediately caught my attention because of its intricacy, when entering the Asian Art Collection area. This is a sculpture that is over a millennium old and is so enriched with both detail and history. The artist managed to create nearly 20 people in his sculpture, telling an entire story out of only less than 3 feet of sandstone. He carved basic kneeling poses for Uma and the Hindu God Shiva, in which they are locking arms with each other, sharing a look of content. In the background, the Artist created smaller children that are part of the foundation for the structure that is encompassing Shiva and Uma. He added less detail when constructing the children in order to to draw the emphasis towards the foreground of the God and his consort.
“The Wet Garden” was a section of the museum that I genuinely enjoyed. This tranquil exhibit is meant to compliment the Asian Art Collection by representing a traditional outdoor scene that can be found in countries such as China and other places all around the continent of Asia. By placing a variety of Asian trees and plants as well as a peaceful stream flowing down from the rocks, they captured an iconic Asian scenery. All of this added to the effect of enjoying this exhibit as though you were actually in Asia. When walking across the bridge over the stream, I didn’t feel as though I was in an exhibit at a museum in Gainesville, but instead was drifting off and becoming immersed in the magnificent landscapes of Asia.
Yvone Jacquette portrayed a beautiful city skyline in Chelsea Composite II. This is a piece that I feel I made a personal connection with because I can see one of my major goals being reflected onto the canvas. Ever since I was young, one of my goals in life has always been to live in the epicenter of a major city like the one shown in this painting. I can only dream being able to gaze out of a view that spectacular on a regular basis. I have this goal because of how much I value the amount of diversity among people, that living in the heart of a city of this magnitude brings. Being from Miami, I was always exposed to this diversity. In the painting I do not see just yellow lit windows on the sides of each building, but instead an entire life behind that window. A life that has secrets, weaknesses, and interests. I believe Yvone used such a large canvas to present just how vast this city setting is by displaying a panned-out view. This allows us to see the enormity of how much is going on at once, but also to see each yellow window which simplifies the picture to explain how it is the diversity of each person behind each window that makes up this city.
This abstract painting, "Bicycles" by Stuart Robert Purser, is very strongly representative of the Good Life. To those walking by it thoughtlessly, it may seem as simple painting of very abstract bicyclists, however, it tells us so much more than that. The painting shows a group of people that are gathered together and all headed in the same direction. This is also a casual ride for them because they are all dressed in everyday clothes rather than competitive wear, so they are probably doing this because they enjoy it. Robert Putnam’s ideals on the Good Life suggest that this group of people are creating connections through their shared interest in bicycling and shared interest in a common goal of heading in the same direction. I believe that the Good Life is defined by the connections you make and by your relationships within your community. In this painting, I see a very strong connection being made within this community, constituting the Good Life.
Created By
Cody Newton-John

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