Good Life: Tour of the Harn Joshua Fullerton


The piece of art that had the most profound impact on me due to its medium and technique was Champ d'avoine by Claude Monet. The technique of the artist is what stands out most to me in this work. I love what I've seen of the Impressionist movement in terms of use of ambiguity and color. The technique allows the viewer to focus less on the hard defining lines of a real shape and instead perceive it as if it were the pure light rebounding off of the physical objects and then into the eye, using combinations of solid bold colors to create a blend from afar that results in beautiful hues that invoke the sense of perceiving the scene for the first time in person, manipulating the way that light hits the eye of the viewer. It almost allows the viewer a degree of participation, and it makes me feel as if I was seeing something not of this earth; the ethereal nature of the figures created in this method of painting leave much to the imagination, and create almost a dreamlike appearance. To me, it communicates that the world is made mostly out of how we perceive it, as the experience is never the same for two people.


The architecture of this section of the Harn, particularly of the Asian Wing, was particularly appealing to me. This is because of a combination of things, including a good use of lighting through the windows (not visible in this picture), the garden outside, and the wooden, simplistic interior that houses the art. The lighting, in combination with the spacing and arrangement of each piece of art with respect to the others, amplifies the experience of admiring the art in the same way that a trophy cabinet would amplify admiration of a trophy more than if it were on a pile of trophies in a corner. The exhibit makes me feel calm, yet in awe, since, in this wing particularly, I am surrounded by pieces of art that long predate my known family, making me feel like part of an ever growing world as I observe this showcase of the evolution of art through various cultures.


The piece of art that appealed to one of my core values the most was Nuestra Señora de Monserrate by Zoilo Cajigas. This allowed me to explore my own core values surrounding culture, heritage and family through a global perspective. I am half Filipino and half American, and although this piece is Puerto Rican, it helps me explore the effects of one culture on another (Spanish colonialism in both instances) and how that changes that which part of my own culture has become. Here, it is evident that the Catholic tradition is something brought from Spain, and yet, the Puerto Rican locals have made it their own over time, forming a cultural mixture that is completely unique and that people can identify with. This is seen by the fact that this Puerto Rican interpretation of the Virgin Mary exists. The same thing happened with the Philippines, and although Catholicism is very common over there, the Spanish and Filipino traditions mixed over time to create a unique cultural identity that the people follow today, with their own traditions and their own depictions of the Virgin Mary. This helps me better understand what I believe and cherish by making me think deeper about the implications of identity and culture on an individual level and how these notions take different forms in different places but still unify everyone as a point of personal identity.


There is perhaps no piece of art in the Harn that better exemplifies the Good Life than the Seated Bodhisattva. The idea of living a good life through helping others is explored here, as the statue depicts someone who actively refrains from entering enlightenment so that he can live life to help others get to his point. His eyes reflect his wisdom, and he sits ready to teach; the statue itself even contains old manuscripts. He is reminiscent of the Buddhist teacher in Siddhartha, and lives a good life through service to the world. It adds to my understanding and appreciation of this theme in that it demonstrates that, even at the point of attaining enlightenment, there are some things that are more important than yourself, and that one should also think of his/her fellow man/woman and live the good life through a degree of selflessness.

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Joshua Fullerton

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