The Good Life Exhibit at the Harn Museum of Art Ali victorio

Medium of the Art / Technique of the Artist

One of the first pieces of art that one sees in the Hard is the African Woman’s Wedding Ensemble called the “asherab nabuak.” The ensemble is a representation of one of the many outfits a woman in Africa would wear in her seven-day wedding ceremony. This piece is worn on the third day meant to welcome her into her new home and family.

The piece itself is intricate in all details, with each detail carefully handcrafted. This is what makes this piece so unique in all forms. It allows viewers such as myself to experience a whole new different culture. It makes me happy that through this slowly disappearing African culture is protected for generations to come.

Design of the Museum

One of the hidden gems of the Harn Museum of Art is the David A. Cofrin Asian Wing. Located further at the back of the museum, the wing is a single-point entry exhibit that features artwork from all over parts of Asia. The wing uses a minimalistic approach to convey messages and its artwork basking in a mellow and Zen ambiance. As one enters through the entrance of the wing, one can see the museum garden that greatly complements the atmosphere of the place.

As I entered the wing, I immediately knew that this was one, or perhaps, my most favorite exhibit in the museum. Because of my Asian heritage, I enjoy learning about Asia. This exhibit greatly sparked the interest in me. When I entered the main doors, I saw two abstract centerpieces. This fascinated me because Asian art tend to focus on the nominal aspects of things to bring out its aesthetic qualities. I enjoyed how the exhibit was designed with relation to Asian art.

The different artworks within the wing are scattered around, allowing the viewer to fully appreciate each piece solely. To me, this allowed me to take in the meaning and appreciate each artwork to the fullest.

Harn Museum's David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing

Art and Core Values

Charles Barlett’s 1916 painting the “Japan: Kyoto” is a watercolor and oil painting that strikingly caught my eye as I toured around the museum. Given my background in Asian Studies, Asian art, especially those coming from East Asia fascinates me greatly. This piece depicted the simple life of a common Japanese family in 1915.

The painting shows old family traditions of Japan that is also seen in some other parts of Asia. Coming from the Philippines, family traditions and interactions plays an important in my development as a person.

The painting caught my attention because one of the most important constituents in my life is my family. In most moments of my life, I depended on my family for protection, a sense of identity, morals, and the satiation of my needs. My parents were my first teachers, and my brother became my first best friend. When I felt insecure, or dejected, I always turn to my family for help. With them, I experienced and learned about the world around me in a whole new perspective.

Art and the Good Life

In the Asian exhibit of the Museum, secluded in a tiny corner is a sculpture of a seated Buddha in the Gandhara region of modern day Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. Achieving the Good life, according to Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, was unveiling the secrets of the world, and attaining enlightenment. A known figure to do so, was Gautama Buddha. In fact, he did make an appearance in the book, with his role integral the seeking, and attaining enlightenment or the Good Life of Siddhartha.

The Buddha under a tree vowed not to stop meditating until he reached enlightenment. The story goes that Devaputra Mara, the chief of all maras (demons) in this world attempted to tempt and distract the Buddha by evoking many apparitions. However, through his concentration he was able to evade all these. With each enticement the Devaputra lured him with, his concentration grew stronger and deeper. Through this manner, he was able to overcome all the demons and temptations in this world, and became fully enlightened (Geshe, 2005).

With relation to the Good life, the sculpture inspires me to further strengthen myself by overcoming the many temptations of the world. At present, temptation comes into play in different forms, all of which are hard to overcome. By possessing the same mindset of the Buddha, I believe it could be possible to overcome temptation one by one, so, in the long run, I will have a stronger presence of mind. I could then be able to possibly reach my version of the Good Life.

Gyatso, Geshe. Introduction to Buddhism. Tharpa Publications. 2005. Print

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