Good Life: Tour of the Harn By: jonathan Manipadam

This spark story is an account of my visit to the Harn Museum of Art for my Good Life class. In this spark I discuss specific pieces of art as well as the arrangement of the museum itself to convey how they communicated feelings to me specifically. This spark has four main sections which are as follows: Medium of the Art/Technique of the Artist, Design of the Museum, Art and Core Values, as well as Art and the Good Life.
Medium of the Art - Technique of the Artist

Manhattan; George Grosz German

One artwork I saw at the Harn Museum that struck me was a painting called “Manhattan” by a painter named George Grosz. Quite simply, the painting conveyed the artist’s vision of the great city. In the oil painting, the city appears in a haze of smoke with its many skyscrapers shooting through the fog to touch the sky. Looking at the painting what really hit me wasn’t the detail of the city, but rather the way the painting seemed to meld together into a mosh pit of sorts, making it difficult to see where each building ends and another begins. I was simultaneously intimidated and drawn in by the sheer size of the city and its magnificent buildings.

Design of the Mesuem

Latin American Wing

The exhibit/wing of the Harn that most appealed to me was the Latin American Wing of the museum. Walking into that section of the museum, the first thing I noticed was the significant change in lighting. Unlike, other areas of the museum with an abundance of windows or seemingly aggressive lights, this wing of the museum had a sort of calm and reflective aura. The paintings and pieces of art were illuminated by small lights that glowed yellow as opposed to fluorescent white. Furthermore, the design of this wing with its strangely placed walls in the center of the room, these allowed visitors to feel as though they were experiencing the wing in solitude, considering they barred the view of other people in the wing. Finally, probably the best part of the wing was that it had two incredibly comfortable plush chairs facing a small alcove garden featuring a statue and a large vase. The museum wing made me feel calm and peaceful.

Art and Core Values

Stoneware Vessel; Ogawa Machiko

An “artwork” that appealed to my values, in a way, was a bizarre piece of stoneware made be an artist or stone worker, Ogawa Machiko. Although, the piece doesn’t clearly demonstrate an emotion, looking at it reminded me of an idea that I resonated with. Observing the piece, I delighted in the way the inside of the piece showed this beautiful yet damaged cracked blue-green crystal. The artwork, to me, conveyed the idea that the things that are truly beautiful and important are often hidden behind the seemingly dull and monotonous (represented by rough plain white stone around the crystal). And, perhaps more importantly, the idea that in the things people value aren’t what they are envisioned to be. I think that the piece helped me contemplate the idea that at this moment I might be overlooking the truly valuable aspects of my life.

Art and The Good Life

Buddhist Plaque

An artwork that conveys to me the theme change, which is important to the attainment and continuation of the “Good Life”, is the Buddhist Plaque from originally from a temple in Korea. For me, the piece conveys the idea of continual change through the carvings that are present on the plaque, both the spinning wheel and the swastika. The wheel for me conveys change and or continual change in that wheel’s spin and continually roll, moving from place to place. It’s possible that this is what the original artist behind the piece wanted to convey. However, the swastika conveys change in a different way. Although, the swastika originally represented something good, literally “good fortune” and “well-being”, today the swastika is most commonly associated with the atrocities of WWII, Nazis, and white supremacy. The meaning conveyed by this symbol has completely changed due to the actions of a few people. Everything in the world is constantly changing, sometimes that change is bad and sometimes it is good. In seeking the Good Life, we need to continually change for the better. This piece of art conveys that to me.

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