Visit to the Harn Museum By: Fan Ling

At the Harn Museum there was a wing that showcased Elusive Spirits: African Masquerades which featured some masks that were used in the culture's rituals. Both of these face masks are artworks that can only be truly appreciated up close as it allowed me to depict the craftsmanship and the details of the mask by observing it up close. The masks were carved from wood and added with other mediums to display the designs but the fact that the masks were hand carved from a piece of wood is what strikes me the most and every mark in the wood is unique to the artist. The bottom face mask (okoroshi ojo) is more of a grotesque and distorted mask but this physical feature represents an cultural aspect of the Igbo people and it allowed me to understand more of their culture.

I thought it was very interesting with the way the museum used their outdoor space to create a very peaceful atmosphere. I have never heard of the garden type of art exhibits and when I was taken by surprise. It was certainly nice to sit back and enjoy the garden view.

A garden view from the inside of the museum

I found the pottery/sculpture part of the museum particularly appealing to me and it surprised that some of the art pieces were from my culture. The Seated Guanyin with Child Attendant and the Immortal Holding Peach with Monkey art piece includes very prevalent figures within my culture. People often find comfort in objects that are familiar to them and I could say the same towards the exhibit. The Guanyin figure is a common deity that was referred to in my culture and growing up in China my grandmother actually had several statues of Guanyin around the house and the figure was also a character in one of my childhood cartoons. My familiarity of these figures and the wood floors created an environment that made me feel like I was back in China.

The artwork I am Not a Persian Carpet #2 by Aphrodite Désirée Navab appeals to one of my core value of diversity. This artwork challenges the way women and cultures have been reduced to commodities in both the West and Eastern world. It addresses the problem of stereotyping and objectifying culture as well as challenging the taboos in her culture. In my belief I think diversity is very important and it allows one to grow culturally instead of staying narrow-minded within their own culture. In a way I was able to relate what the artist is trying to evoke through her artwork because I was faced with stereotyping during a part of my life. This artwork made me feel very encouraged and empowered to be able to do anything. It cherished the more independent side of me and to strive for the goals I have set in mind and just do me. As I have said diversity is an important core value for me the artwork Moon Bridge at Kameido by Helen Hyde made me think about how beneficial traveling is as it allows one to experience the different cultures.

This artwork of Frida Kahlo and Emmy Lou Packard by Emmy Lou Packard that conveys the theme of sharing the Good Life. The artwork depicts two women sitting together: Frida Kahlo (left) and Emmy Lou Packard (right) and it reflects their close relationship and from the art description Emmy Lou's hair has been dressed like Frida's and they look completely at east with each other, like lovers or sisters. This shows how content as if they found happiness in their life and the simple embrace within the artwork shows that how important they are in each other's life and they are sharing their experience with each other.

The friendship between Frida and Emmy Lou made me relate to the friendship I have with my best friend as it reflects upon our friendship. We are both involved within each other's lives and sharing the ups and downs with each other. From this sharing of experience it made me appreciate life in itself more as an individual.

All photos were taken by Fan Ling
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Fan Ling
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