Harn Definition of the Good Life By: Isabella Oliver UFID#: 5625-4936

Medium of the Art/Technique of the Artist:

Both the painting and sculpture presented below represent a texture-filled visual experience. Tomomi's Black Flame on the right illustrates a flowing concept of burned fire, with deep creases and curves that make the viewer feel a scorching, dark power - something not represented in a mere image of the statue, but rather its physical presence before the viewer. Personally, it grabbed my attention due to its coarse texture, focusing my thoughts towards a darker, sadder sentiment. As for Tufino's Plate 3 depicting a woman grinding coffee, it gives a much more rural, textural sense. The contrast between black, white, and few varying shades of grey makes me sense a feeling of duty and dedication, which is what made me notice the piece in the first place, in a series of 4 plates presented in the Harn Museum.

Left: Rafael Tufino. Plate 3, Coffee Portfolio. 1954. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. Right: TANAKA Tomomi. Black Flame. 1983. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.

Design of the Museum

This is one of the background rooms of the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art that I found the most beautiful, architecturally wise. This is because the open space, view of the garden, and lighting somehow connected the interior world to that of the outside - which gave life to many of the pieces within the display room. This was consistent with the focus of the pieces, which were based on the spiritual and religious side of Asian values, including the Seated Buddha and Vajravarahi.

Art and Core Values

Image: Sebastiao Salgado. A thanksgiving prayer to the Mize god Kioga in gratitude for the good harvest, Oaxaca, Mexico. 2010. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.

Image: Agustin Cardenas. Family. 1991. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.

Image: Cundo Bermudez. Cuarteto Habanero. 1991. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.

The three images above are all from the Latin America section of the Harn Museum, and they all represent on some level one of the biggest aspects of my life: my family and my culture. I am Venezuelan, and so being thankful for the beautiful place from where I come from is an intense feeling that I was reminded of due to the first image. It reminded me of many times my family and I spent on the beautiful Andean mountains, and it reinforced my core values of cultural pride and gratitude. Moreover, the second image represents a figure of two parents and a child, which is the way my family is structured as well - therefore augmenting my familial value, reminding me that I have an amazing support system that is there for me unconditionally. The last image has a lot to do with the Spanish culture of music, which calls for a loud display of awe-inspiring sounds, the sounds of my childhood. Representing a group of people through a widely enjoyed action is one of the ways my family taught me to not only enjoy where I came from, but how to appreciate it as well. Therefore, seeing this represented in artwork was awesomely gratifying.

Art and the Good Life

Left: Gandhara. Seated Buddha. 4th-5th Century. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. Acquired 1997. Right: Tibet. Vajravarahi. 13th Century. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. Acquired 2005.

The Good Life theme can be depicted in a myriad of ways. In the case of art, I personally believe the two images above depict the epitome of the good life. The Seated Buddha represents enlightenment, the achievement of letting go of all the negativity and ego within yourself, in order to truthfully and forcefully be happy. As for the statue of Vajravarahi, it represents the mortal aspect of the good life: being able to enjoy every moment to the fullest, because you know it could all come to an end at any given time. The Goddess also represents eternal and transcendent wisdom, characteristic of a Good Life, in which one is educated enough to make the right decisions.

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