Intro: A Planet of Art
The Harn Museum's exhibits this semester included a wide array of cultural art pieces from around the world. I took my time browsing the pieces (a whopping 3 hours), and I felt that the exhibit had done each culture due diligence. So, without further ado, here's my story of the Harn Museum.
Medium: How An Artist Recreates the World Around Them
Something that I've read about in books but never come to truly appreciate is the creation of a home, specifically in the Middle East. I kid you not, I read a light novel once about a love story set in the Turkic Middle East that touched up on home creation around that area. So, when I came upon the Sahel dwelling support post, I immediately became captivated by it. The meticulous carving was outdone only by the thought that a craftsman had to make dozens of these for a single dwelling! No doubt the posts must have cost a fortune for the family in question. I myself am an artist obsessed with detail and I easily spend months on my own drawings. So when I see this post, I can't help but imagine the countless hours a craftsman must have worked in his workshop to make this for a family. A takeaway from this piece is definitely that some people really do value even the tiniest incisions in a piece of wood, despite what we may think is insignificant or superfluous.
Design: How History is Worshiped in The Present
The way the Harn presented itself to me when I first entered was... big, for lack of a better word. The entrance hall was tall and echoed something fierce. The grandness of the entrance made for an interesting contrast when I entered the exhibit, after which I was greeted with an inexplicably "home-y" atmosphere. The room, although still quite large, was accompanied by light, yet warm lighting shining on the pieces of the abstract pieces laid in front of me. Every cultural exhibit was unique beyond the pieces that were displayed. Subtle differences in lighting and wall color helped differentiate each room. My particular favorite was the oriental crafts room where the detailed sculptures of white Jade and abstract stone cuts were contrasted with the smooth wooden floor. Also, in accordance to what a museum should do, the Harn did well to have each piece be worshiped in its own little space; That I can respect of the museum.
Core Values: How do I feel?
One piece that appealed to my core values was "Road Worker" by Diego Rivera. The piece appealed greatly to my inner dignity and honor. I simply loved how the artist decided to honor many of his pieces' subjects by modeling his creative process after each subjects' conditions. This one, for example, was a charcoal drawing on rice paper of a low-paid (I assume) worker. The fact that it was rice paper, and not the highest quality paper pays homage to how earnestly and humbly the workers lived, and how they made due with what they had. This respect that the artist has for his models is deserving of my own respect, for sure.
The Good Life and Art
Though I don't have a picture handy of the collection I have in mind, I think the ruined Rome series from the "Meant to Be Shared" selections gets my mind going the most. Among the various topics of history that I am intrigued by, the fall of Rome is definitely the most enthralling. An entire civilization that fell and took a millennium to catch up to again... How could I ignore something like that. The pieces I have in mind were Italian prints illustrating people living within the ancient Roman ruins. When I think about the good life and these pieces' meanings, I immediately gravitate to the idea of learning from others. Those who believe that enlightenment is only achievable within one's own power and no other should look towards the story of Rome. A democracy, not much different than ours, tainted eventually by monarchy, and then ground to dust by overzealous tribal religion. I live and die to never make the same mistake happen to us that did to Rome, and I hope society exists for a similar purpose as well. I say that, but there may as well be something else unprecedented that may tear our civilization apart that we may have to recuperate from again. Nonetheless, the idea that you learn from others and their mistakes resonates from those pieces, and I intend to take their lessons with me as I search for the good life.
The Harn Museum was a wonderful experience. Though I used to travel extensively as a child, visiting one corner of the world one day and then the other corner the next, I don't anymore. The museum was a relaxing revisit to that past, and I appreciated every second I spent in it. It's too bad that everyone around me was in such a rush. They missed some truly interesting pieces.