Harn Museum Spark Story by Madeline Bickerstaff

Male Royal Ancestor Mask/ African exhibit

Medium of the art/technique of the artist: This picture of the Male Royal Ancestor Mask was the first thing that captured my attention when I walked into the African section of the museum. There were several masks and sculptures that caught my eye, but this one was so striking because of how intricate and detailed the patterns on the mask were. I cannot even imagine the time and effort that was put into aligning each bead so perfectly. This art work made me feel very intrigued about the cultural background of the mask, what it symbolized, and what occasions it was worn for. I learned that the mask was worn by the king, who is a sacred being and not allowed to wear the mask. He would put it on in secret to assert his supernatural power by transgressing human laws. The face of the mask especially fascinated me because the squinted eyes and discreet smile were so adorable, which seems to contrast with the idea of a powerful, masculine King wearing the mask.

Asian Water Garden outdoor wing

Design of the Museum: The Asian Water Garden was by far the most appealing wing at the Harn Museum in my opinion. It is naturally beautiful without the use of a paint brush or tool. The weather conditions could not have been any more perfect on the day I went, which also contributed to my enjoyment of being outdoors for this exhibit. Stepping into the cool air and sunshine while listening to the sweet sounds of the waterfall splashing onto the rocks-pure bliss is what I experienced. Also, the alignment of the rocks, plants, trees, ponds, and the waterfall was flawless-I literally felt like I stepped into a water garden in Asia. The exhibit was so simple, yet so complex at the same time. The tranquil environment of the Asian Water Garden made me forget about all my problems and simply admire nature.

"When racism & sexism are no longer fashionable, how much will your art collection be worth?"

Art and Core Values: These three pictures about women artists and artists of color, specifically the “When racism and sexism are no longer fashionable, how much will your art collection be worth?” stuck out to me because they represent gender and race equality. I believe women should have equal rights and opportunities as men do, as well as colored people having equal opportunities as white people. Women artists or colored artists should not have to struggle to sell their art work and make a profit simply because of their gender or race. It saddened me and shocked me to read that for the 17.7 million it costs to purchase a single Jasper Johns painting, you could purchase about 70 works by women/artists of color. It allowed me to better understand the inequality that so many people still face today. I honestly had no idea the extent of inequality that women and colored artists faced and it needs to be put to an end. Every painting by women that I saw at the museum was just as beautiful and brilliant as most of the paintings by males, yet the males’ paintings dominated the museum.

The Seated Bodhisattva

Art and the Good Life: The “Seated Bodhisattva” is the quintessence of the Good Life theme. A Bodhisattva is a Buddhist saint and savior, a “Buddha-to-be,” who refrains from entering enlightenment out of compassion for all the others who are striving to reach the same goal. The Bodhisattva is often referred to as the Gautama Buddha in his former life, who, as we know from Siddhartha, embraces nearly every quality of the Good Life. A Bodhisattva is bound for enlightenment just like the character Siddhartha, who possesses traits such as persistence, patience, wisdom, and discernment. This Bodhisattva made me appreciate the Good Life theme even more, especially now that I’ve read Siddhartha, and have a better understanding of the Buddhist culture and what they describe as enlightenment. However, without even knowing the story behind this sculpture or anything about Buddhism, by simply looking at it I believe anyone could see that it has a peaceful and holy ambiance. It is not difficult to tell that this is a sculpture of someone who is spiritually above most people and living a path of righteousness.

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