The Harn Museum: My Experience Afsaneh Taylor

Medium of the Art / Technique of the Artist

Tokyo Street with Pachinko Parlor II (Cofrin, 1985)

While visiting the Harn Museum, there were a lot of paintings and sculptures that jumped out at me, but this painting of Pachinko Parlor, often called the "Pleasure Palace", entranced me. The painting looks beautiful being viewed through a picture, but in person I could see all the fine details and the smaller components that really made this piece come together. The skewed perspective of the painting really pays homage to the consistently busy streets of Tokyo, and the bright color contrasts with the depiction of a night scene are eerily spot-on to the flashing lights of real-life Tokyo.

Design of the Museum

Elusive Spirits: African Masquerades (Photographs from left to right: Young men at Ogbo (Picton, 1966), Dancing at Ngiyehun, Luawa, Kailahun (Phillips), Ndhahiti (Phillips))

The Elusive Spirits exhibit was the most thematically appropriate and visually appealing exhibit in the museum. This wing of the museum truly had a cubic feel, like there was something new around every corner. It also fit that there were more pieces in display cases in this wing, adding to the aesthetic. I really liked the masks and the headdresses, especially the Water Spirit Mask (pictured above). Aside from the color of the paint chosen, which I think fit a lot of the photographs and sculptures in the exhibit, the lightning was very appropriate, and there was even one wall with a video playing continuously, completely dark as if I had stepped in to a movie theater. More than anything, I think the wings composition and the pieces chosen framed a really nice picture of traditional African cultural practices. The pieces had a lot more physicality, and reminded me of the many different forms of art in a continent as varied as Africa, while not going as far making it seem too "ethnic".

Art and Core Values

Prism & Mangechi Gold #6 (Minter, 2009)

These photographs are a little more unique in their presentation but still left an impression on me from what they represented. Both of these images are feminist in nature, depicting the "pathology of glamour", in Marilyn Minter's words. They portray the obsessive need that women often have to change themselves to fit society's standards and ideals that are unrealistic, sometimes impossible. As our world becomes more modern, even though we are becoming more progressive, some things seem to never change, as unrealistic depictions of beauty for women and men are plastered everywhere the eye can see, and beauty standards loathe to change the status quo. For me, these images remind me that the beauty that I may sometimes wish to attain isn't impossible because I'm not adequate, but because it is simply impossible, and that learning to love and believe in myself is essential to living a good life.

Art and the Good Life

Three Girls Holding Hands, Sertao da Paraiba, Brazil (Salgado, 1981)

This photograph struck me as a visual representation of some of the truths of reality that we may ignore or forget about living life through one perspective. In the description next to "Three girls holding hands" there is a sentence mentioning that Sebastio Salgado, the photographer, is renowned for taking "socially conscious" photographs, which this is in its entirety. In the Good Life, we talk about how we seek and share the Good Life, and this photograph reminds me of those themes. The image depicts not just the poverty that these girls live in and the grim life they may lead, but the solidarity between them, and how even though their circumstances aren't ideal, they are still living together.

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