My Good Life Tour of the Harn By Connor Sweeney

Sweeney, Connor. "Me with Cundo Bermúdez's Cuarteto Habanero." 2017. JPEG file.


(Left) Debela, Achamyeleh. Spirit at the Door. 1992. Digital image Cibachrome print. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville.

(Right) Sweeney, Connor. "Me with Spirt at the Door." 2017. JPEG file.

When I was in the Harn, I saw Achamyeleh's Spirit at the Door. Seeing this image in person made the Senufo shrine door superimposed on the image of the Akan brass head more noticeable. This made it much easier to see and understand his efforts to evoke the concept of different realities and transitions from one state of being to the next. Understanding the artist's meaning allowed me to appreciate the work more. I find his technique of superimposition striking because I certainly did not expect to see a piece use a technique I'm used to seeing used in Photoshop. It communicated the idea that this painting has depth, both physical and metaphorical, and has various layers to observe and ponder about. Spirit at the Door made me feel curious about the idea of superimposing images to create art, and about its potential applications in other pieces.


Sweeney, Connor. "Panorama of the Asian Art Wing." 2017. JPEG file.

The Asian art wing, which appeared to prioritize ceramics and sculptures over paintings, was remarkably spacious, and let in plenty of sunlight. It stood in stark contrast to the Frida Kahlo and the African art exhibits, which were less open and had much less natural sunlight entering. I found it particularly appealing because, to me, it showed the effort that the curators and architects put into separating the exhibits by global region. Asia is significantly larger than North/South America or Africa, which was reflected in how the Asian art exhibit was more spacious than the Frida Kahlo (whose photographs and paintings, in my opinion, represent both Mexico and South America quite well) and African exhibits. The art in the Asia wing was also spaced out more, helping convey the sense of openness in the room even further. The spaciousness of the Asia wing made me feel less significant because I was one person seeing on a literally large scale the legacy of Asian ceramics and sculpting.


Sweeney, Connor. "Me with Herman Herzog's Landscape with Three Dear." 2017. JPEG file.

Nature is a core value of mine. I believe that we need to be able to appreciate and protect the natural beauty that surrounds us. The visual representation of nature that Herzog conveys, a simplistic yet vibrant landscape that manages to capture the notion that nature can be isolating but also unites us with the three deer, allows me to understand and appreciate the idea that we can feel alone out in nature but at the same time we can be one with the life around us. The artwork instills tranquility into me; the colors are vivid yet soothing, and deer are a symbol of quietness to me. It shows to me exactly why I cherish nature: it provides an peaceful escape from my hectic daily life and has unparalleled beauty.


(Left) Bellows, George Wesley. Jim Twadell's Place. 1924. Oil on canvas. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville.

(Right) Sweeney, Connor. "Me with Jim Twadell's Place." 2017. JPEG file.

In Jim Twadell's Place, Bellows shows us a horse trainer's abode. The residence is fairly expansive, but maintains an air of rural simplicity and peacefulness. In my opinion, this artwork conveys the Good Life theme of seeking meaning in life instead of solely pursuing happiness. Having had various friends with experience in horse riding and horse training, I understand that training horses can be quite challenging depending on the horse's disposition and the tactics the trainer uses. I'm sure that Jim Twadell was well aware of this fact, and, to me, this painting can be seen as a depiction of Twadell's daily life. He faces challenges and struggles like we do, but perhaps he finds meaning and satisfaction in life by training his horses and maintaing his grounds, instead of just being happy with his large estate. It makes me appreciate the concept of finding meaning in life and in how you live it instead of just living to seek pleasure in that Twadell's life appears to be simple, but not without its own challenges. If he can perhaps seek meaning in his life, surely I could, too.

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Connor Sweeney

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