The Harn Museum of Art By: Jacqueline Mumford

The Harn Museum of Art is one of UF's many gems. It is an institution of culture and diversity. Each exhibit in this museum provides you with a deep understanding of art within varying cultures and connects you to the souls of artists all over the world. This experience was enlightening and eye-opening.

Medium of the Art / Technique of the Artist: This piece, called Helmet Mask (zombie), is an African mask created by the Gola, or Vai, people. The mask is made out of wood and vegetable fiber. Although the photograph does not exactly capture it, the detail in this piece was incredible. Although the lines and shapes are not perfect, the character held within the piece is shown beautifully. Seeing this piece in person gave me a better understanding for how different tribes and cultures view beauty. This vegetable fiber resembled real human hair, making the mask much more life-like; a view only seen in person. I found this piece particularly striking due to simplicity of the medium, but the complexity of the message. This mask illustrates an entire aspect of a culture, which I found to be beautiful. This piece made me feel more aware and understanding of the way different people see beauty.
Design of the Museum: This section of the museum featured artwork, china, and other artifacts from Asia. The wing opens up to a spacious room with a wall covered in windows. These windows overlook a beautiful zen garden in which you may go outside and view. I found this particular wing intriguing because, even though the day I went it was quite gloomy, the wall of windows let in such an immense amount of light. This light reflected on each individual piece within the room in a different way, making some pieces look entirely different depending on the angle in which you were viewing it. I also enjoyed the open layout of the space; allowing you to flow freely through the room, much like the light. This space was very calming, and I felt as if I could really appreciate the art in my zen-state of mind.

Art and Core Values: This piece in the Latin American section of the museum, called Family by Augustin Cardenas, captures one of my core values perfectly: family. Being of Latin American descent, family is the complete center of our universe. To me, this piece represented the support provided by a close-knit Latino family and how crucial that is to attain the good life for me. This artwork provoked emotions of love and joy, everything I feel for my family. This helps me better understand why I cherish my family by the rich color of the bronze, signifying a deep connection between family members to me. Also, the size of the two parental figures in relation to the center child made me realize that my parents are my protectors, and I will always need them, and that is why I value family so deeply.

Art and the Good Life: This piece by the American artist Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled, from the Kitchen Table Series, 1990/2010, helps me think about the good life by displaying how physical appearance has become enmeshed in the pursuit of the good life. In the piece, a mother and daughter are sitting at a kitchen table; the mother fixing her hair, and the young girl applying make up. With the little girl being so young, this work illustrates how from a very young age we watch our mothers and how concerned they are with their physical appearance, and we take after them. For me, this piece brought up memories of my mother saying how she needs makeup and nice clothing for work in order to meet societies standards. These ideals are so ingrained in the minds of many girls, like me, and this work hits the nail on the head in that aspect. This adds to my understanding of these theme by reminding me how young we are when these societal influences are etched into our minds, and how we let physical appearance define and guide our quest for the goof life.

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