Medium of the Artist
Female Royal Ancestor Mask (Ngady a Mwaash)
This Congolese mask, created by the Kuba people, was made to honor the role of women in tribal life. With such unique, natural materials, the mask represents an uncommon medium. This particular piece uses wood, animal hair, pigment, beads, and cowrie shells. The simplicity of the medium coincides with the artist's tribal lifestyle, but altogether creates a complex, beautiful design. The imperfection of the design made the piece seem authentic in the sense that it was easy to imagine a Congolese artist crafting the piece, whereas it's hard to imagine certain fancy sculptures being created. In a word, the piece seemed raw to me, but in a good way. It made me consider the limited resources that certain areas of the world have. The overall appearance is both off-putting and intriguing.
Design of the Museum
Irving J. Goffman Garden; designed by A.L. Wiener
The Goffman Garden, placed adjacent to the Modern Gallery, uses natural lighting, plants, and other landscape elements to completely change the space. The atrium style of the garden allows sunlight to sweep into the exhibit. Amidst so much man-made work and unnatural lighting, the garden provides a pleasant jolt of natural beauty. If this exact garden were to be in someone's backyard, it would not be appreciated as much. It's placement alongside paintings and sculptures leads the viewer to see it as more of an art piece, which allows for a greater appreciation of the natural beauty a Floridian landscape offers. The exhibit made me feel refreshed and more appreciative of nature around me.
Art and Core Values
Excavation by Boardman Robinson
This 1926 fresco simply depicts four men working in construction. The subject matter reflects the universal value of hard work. The artist's use of shadowing highlights, in particular, the movement and stress on the body of the worker in the lower right. This shows hard, physical labor, and the piece embodies the hardworking spirit that drove America's industrial working class in the early 20th century. The piece makes me proud of this aspect of the history and culture of America; our country rose to international prominence on the shoulders of hard workers. The simplicity yet power of the piece makes me consider how much I value effort in the pursuit of achievement.
Art and the Good Life
Funeral by Stuart Robert Purser
Stuart Purser's 1945 oil painting, Funeral, highlights some key themes of the Good Life. Depicted is the funeral of a working class man, surrounded respectfully by the men and women who wish to pay their respects. While the man may not have come from much money, he still lived in a way that earned him the respect of those around him. To me, this epitomizes how we should all live. Regardless of our social status, we can all live in a kind, selfless way that earns us the respect of the people in our lives. If we can die and be treated with such reverence, then we have succeeded in life. The painting is stark, emotional, and powerful. Death is universal and final; Funeral makes the viewer consider what life really leads up to, and what lifestyle we should live to make us accept our eventual deaths with a sense of fulfillment.
All photos are by Wilson Erickson