Upon entering the Harn Museum, I was immediately enamored by the flow of the layout of the exhibits and the artwork. From the first center-piece work of art, to the flow into the different exhibits, to even the lighting of each of the rooms, going to the Harn opened my eyes to the diversity of art from different cultures.
The Bodhisattva spoke to me the most in terms of technique and medium. Bodhisattva is the Sanskrit term for anyone who, motivated by great compassion, has generated bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. The fact that an original statue of a Bodhisattva was on display in front of me was mind blowing. The intricate designs, the different coloring of the statue, and the calm expression etched into the statue's face struck me when walking through the Harn. The fact that they had X-ray's of the Bodhisattva was even more astonishing. This piece of art made me feel calm, like I wanted to go and find my own serenity, and possibly go on my own quest, not particularly to become a Buddhist, but to find my own inner peace. In every day life I am always very busy and stressed, constantly working or studying, but this trip to the museum and this stop in particular made me pause and reevaluate my life and decisions, and made me realize that in order to become a hard working part of society, I needed to find my own peace and meaning.
Design of the Museum
The Asian art wing was definitely my favorite part of the whole museum. When you first walk past it you see how the room widens in an open-concept layout. The ceiling-to-floor windows allows for the room to be drowned in natural light. The small lights on the ceilings seem to only accent the room, as the daylight that pours into it gives every individual art piece its own spotlight. A sense of calm overcame me when I first entered the Asian wing. It only deepened as I walked out into the garden where the rushing water poured into a small pond, and where all the plants swayed in the wind. The same goes for the rock garden, where the raked rocks exuded a sense of tranquility. The fact that each art piece got its own space, its own clear case, and its own description made everything feel more official and clean, all while maintaining that sense of serenity.
Art and Core Values
This sculpture of an ancient Korean Buddhist broken-armed cross threw me for a loop when I saw it. I could not believe my eyes. I realized that the swastika was backwards, however, and so I began to read the description that lay off to the side. When I found that this symbol had origins in peace and goodness, and not hate and aggression, I was surprised. As said in the description, this left-facing swastika has origins in the Sanskrit language meaning "it is good." It is also said to represent eternity. I previously did not know about the original "swastika," and always thought that it was a symbol for hatred, which deeply goes against my values. After learning the truth, every time I looked at this particular art piece, a sense of peace came over me. I began to look at the intricate designs of the sculpture and began to truly appreciate its beauty. This piece of art helps me better understand that behind every negativity or negative energy, there is a light and a positive outcome, as long as you can calm down and see all the different sides of the story.
Art and the Good Life
This statue of Hindu deity Ganesha speaks to the Good Life theme of connections between individuals and a sense of community. Hinduism is practiced by over 900 million people around the world, the third largest religion in the world. Every individual who practiced Hinduism starts their prayers with Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom. Artwork, such as this statue is found all over the world, spreading the idea of Ganesha and Hinduism, and sharing the beliefs and values of the Hindu religion to individuals who may not know anything about it. We spoke about "sharing" the good life earlier in the semester, but it plays such a big part in this statue as well as the rest of the artwork presented at the Harn Museum.